Weekly Activity Reports - January 2017

January 27, 2017

  • Another major event is coming to Sault Ste. Marie. Festivals & Events Ontario (FEO) is holding its 2017 conference here March 1 to 3. With a waterfront fireworks display set for the evening of Wednesday, March 1, the public will have an opportunity to be a part of the celebration. Citizens can view the spectacle along the John Rowswell Hub Trail at Clergue Park or behind the former hospital site. There are a few spaces left for local and regional groups to formally participate in the learning and networking forum. For registration and other information, please visit www.feo2017.com. Tourism Sault Ste. Marie, which works to attract events and visitors to the city, partnered with Tourism Northern Ontario and FEO to host the 2017 conference. The forum is expected to draw hundreds of delegates from across the province.
  • With the new year underway, the SSMEDC is gathering its results statistics for 2016. Reporting on results generated is meant to keep the public and funding partners informed of SSMEDC activity and return on investment. One statistic is now available. In 2016, the SSMEDC website, www.sault-canada.com, attracted 27,448 visitors, a 6.2% increase over 2015. The site also garnered a total of 75,258 page views. Website maintenance is facilitated by the SSMEDC's Corporate Services division. The division also creates stand-alone sites for specific initiatives. In 2016, Corporate Services created two websites to support SSMEDC and partner projects, including one site built for the 2016 EDCO Spring Symposium held in Sault Ste. Marie. The division is now assisting the SSMEDC's Business division in the development of the Invest Sault Ste. Marie website.
  • Last week, the Great Lakes Cruise Coalition held its annual general meeting. It was a banner year for the organization, which works to grow cruise ship traffic in the region. Ian McMillan, Executive Director of Tourism Sault Ste. Marie, sits on the Board of Directors of the Great Lakes Cruise Coalition. He's also the former Chair of Cruise Ontario, an agency that also worked to attract luxury passenger vessels to the Great Lakes. Thanks to the work of these two organizations, cruise ship traffic in the region has been on the rise in recent years. In Sault Ste. Marie, for example, 2016 was the best year on record. Two cruise ships, Pearl Mist and MV Victory II, docked at the Roberta Bondar Marina a total of 20 times, which brought more than 4,000 visitors to the community.
  • The SSMEDC prides itself on being governed by a professional Board of Directors comprised of community leaders. Each year, Board and Committee members give thousands of volunteer service to the Corporation and community. One Director, Donna Hilsinger, who serves as the SSMEDC's governing Secretary, now has another volunteer role in the city. This week, she was elected Chair of Sault Ste. Marie Police Services Board. Last summer, Donna became the volunteer Executive Director of the Algoma Fall Festival. A longtime community leader and volunteer, she was the 2008 Northern Ontario Business Influential Women Award winner, 2013 Recipient of the Leading Women Building Communities Award from the Province of Ontario, and the 2015 recipient of the Paul Dalseg Award from the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce.

January 20, 2017

  • Searchmont Ski Resort will be even more user-friendly this weekend. After a six-year hiatus, the four-person Quad chairlift is set to reopen on Saturday. "With the weather cooperating, and now with the Quad starting up again, this is a very exciting time for the resort," said general manager Colin Wilson. The Quad revival initiative was made possible with investments from senior levels of government, along with a generous donation from Floreani O'Toole & Dool Orthodontists. In December 2014, the SSMEDC purchased Searchmont Ski Resort. The acquisition was required to ensure the tourist attraction and quality-of-life generator continued to operate. As the owner of the resort, the SSMEDC is able to take advantage of significant amounts of capital improvement funding from FedNor and the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund. Online: www.searchmont.com.
  • The Sault Ste. Marie Airport saw record traffic in 2016. A total of 211,614 passengers flew in and out of the local airport via Air Canada Express, Bearskin Airlines, Porter Airlines and Sunwing Airlines, making it the busiest year in history. The previous record was 201,347 in 2015. For the past several years, the SSMEDC has been working with the Sault Ste. Marie Airport Development Corporation on various growth projects. In 2007, they attracted JD Aero, an aircraft maintenance and overhaul firm. In 2008, they landed Sunwing Airlines. In 2011, they attracted Porter Airlines. In 2015, they secured investments to undertake an airport expansion project. More recently, the SSMEDC and Sault Ste. Marie Airport Development Corporation formed a partnership to develop the airport site with additional industrial and commercial components.
  • Over the past few years, local tourism traffic from motor coaches has been rising steadily. In 2016, more than 200 bus tours carrying over 10,000 passengers from South Korea, Japan, the U.S. and Canada came here. The main focus of these trips is the Agawa Canyon Tour Train and Group of Seven-themed excursions. Why have motor coach visits been on the rise? The main reason is that Tourism Sault Ste. Marie markets the community to global tour operators. This week, for example, a representative from Tourism Sault Ste. Marie attended the 2017 American Bus Association Marketplace. While there, he met with 35 tour operators and motor coach companies. Sault Ste. Marie was pitched to these groups. Some have already made commitments to come to the Sault this summer, while other leads are still being worked on.
  • The SSMEDC team is taking part in the Push For Change campaign to end youth homelessness. Staffers are currently raising funds to support the initiative. On February 1, Joe Roberts will be coming through Sault Ste. Marie. A former homeless youth, who has since turned his life around and is now a successful businessman, he's pushing a shopping cart across Canada to raise funds and awareness for youth homelessness. Money raised from the local portion of the campaign will support Pauline's Place, a 19-bed shelter in Sault Ste. Marie that provides emergency short-term housing to youth, women, and families that are experiencing a housing crisis. For more information on Push For Change, including how to donate and information on the Sault Ste. Marie leg of the campaign, please visit www.thepushforchange.com.

January 13, 2017

  • On February 4 and 5, Sault Ste. Marie will be home to the 2017 Highland Ford Can/Am Cup. The snowmobile race, sanctioned by the Canadian Snowcross Racing Association (CSRA), is taking place at The Yard, located beside the International Bridge next to the Machine Shop. Hundreds of racers from across Canada, the United States and Europe will be participating in the event, which will see them compete for CSRA Canadian National Championship points. With a mandate to draw visitors by attracting and supporting events, Tourism Sault Ste. Marie is assisting race organizers in planning and marketing the 2017 Highland Ford Can/Am Cup. The event is being presented by The Yard and Rivercity Motorsports. For more information, including a full weekend schedule, visit http://snowcross.com/schedule/.
  • CTV Northern Ontario aired a news profile this week on the SSMEDC's Millworks Centre for Entrepreneurship. The segment highlighted several business clients that are operating out of the facility, including Jeronamo Solutions, a marketing and web development firm, and Northstar Consulting, which specializes in project management, business development, funding strategy and event planning. View the news report at http://northernontario.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=1034315&binId=1.1142313&playlistPageNum=1. Opened in the spring of 2016, the Millworks Centre for Entrepreneurship is located in the Machine Shop. The site houses the SSMEDC's enterprise services team and programs, along with a small business incubator that now hosts nine companies. Online: www.themillworks.ca.
  • The SSMEDC is moving forward with its new-and-improved Invest Sault Ste. Marie website. Following a tender process, Sault-based Miramar Design Studio was selected as the winning bid. The firm is now working on the design and programming. Once unveiled in the coming weeks, the website will market and showcase the city as a great place to live and do business, with a focus on foreign-direct investment. It will feature tools and information for investors and site selectors, including a database of vacant industrial and commercial properties. The website is being made possible with funding from the Government of Canada. This project is part of the SSMEDC's Invest Sault Ste. Marie strategy, a targeted investment attraction and marketing initiative designed to attract external companies and investment, generate wealth, and create jobs.
  • A new staffer recently joined the SSMEDC team. Harleen Puaar was hired as Marketing Outreach Coordinator intern. She is assisting with the development of marketing campaigns and approaches to promote the delivery of small business programs, workshops, seminars and events. Ultimately, the role is responsible for promoting the SSMEDC's enterprises services programs and bolstering the small business sector in Sault Ste. Marie. This internship position is made possible with support from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation. On an annual basis, the SSMEDC leverages its core funding to accesses considerable amounts of additional investments from senior levels of government to support its activity, operations and program delivery throughout the community.

January 6, 2017

  • In December, Gateway Casinos & Entertainment was named the service provider for OLG's North and Southwest gaming bundles. Translation: the B.C.-based firm will soon be operating a number of casinos and gaming sites across the province, including Sault Ste. Marie. Locally, UP - The Lottery and Gaming Pursuit Project is looking to capitalize on this opportunity. The team is seeking to grow the Sault's lottery and gaming sector. As one of its goals, UP is working to position the city as the best location for Gateway Casinos & Entertainment to base its gaming operations and exploration of the transforming gaming market. Last week, the SSMEDC, one of UP's main project partners, provided a greeting letter and other info related to the Sault's competitive industry advantages, to be included in a welcome package that will be presented to Gateway by UP.
  • The @SaultEDC Twitter page reached another milestone last week. The site garnered its 2,000th follower, which is an all-time world record. If you believe that's a Twitter record, there are a few bridges we'd like to sell you. But all kidding aside, the milestone is meaningful. Growth in the SSMEDCs Twitter page, which began in 2016 with a little over 1,000 followers, is caused by regular activity and frequent two-way dialogue with fellow users of the platform. To view the site, visit www.twitter.com/SaultEDC. Meanwhile, in September, the SSMEDC created a corporate Facebook page, which has also grown considerably. The SaultEDC Facebook page now has 244 likes and counting. In keeping with its push towards more social media activity, the SSMEDC will be focusing on creating and posting videos on its Youtube channel throughout 2017.
  • In keeping with a tradition that dates back nearly a decade, Tourism Sault Ste. Marie was a sponsor in the recent 2016 Festival of Trees. The organization's private sector tourism industry partners made donations that included accommodation packages and attraction tickets for the Agawa Canyon Tour Train. The Festival of Trees is an annual event that supports The Lung Association. The fundraiser sees community partners donate holiday Christmas trees with accompanying products and goodies, and patrons bid on them. Held this year at the Machine Shop, the 2016 event raised more than $85,000, with all proceeds going to The Lung Association. Tourism Sault Ste. Marie also helps promote and market the Festival of Trees through its website, events publications and social media platforms.
  • The SSMEDC recently released the November/December 2016 edition of its bimonthly newsletter, The Pulse. View the publication at http://conta.cc/2iiu5tn. The digital newsletter is sent to approximately 1,500 recipients. It includes articles on economic development initiatives, SSMEDC clients and results generated. The Pulse has been published since October 2008 and is meant to keep partners and citizens informed of the Corporation's activity, along with its programs and services. The online archive is available at www.sault-canada.com/en/aboutus/newsletter.asp. The SSMEDC uses a number of corporate communications methods to reach a wide audience. Weekly Activity Reports, for example, highlight some of the team's more day-to-day functions. View this content at www.sault-canada.com/en/aboutus/stayconnected.asp.