Weekly Activity Reports - March 2014

March 28, 2014

  • A group of industry experts have joined forced to grow the lottery and gaming sector in Sault Ste. Marie. Announced earlier today, the Digital Gaming Taskforce will provide strategic direction to further enable the community to take advantage of its competitive strengths to develop projects and implement an investment attraction strategy. Spearheaded by the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation, in partnership with the Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre, the group also consists of Tom Marinelli, Acting CEO of the OLG, along with representatives from Canadian Banknote Company, The Debono Group, Pollard Banknote, Algoma University and Sault College.
  • At Monday's City Council meeting, SSMEDC client Blueforest Ventures announced an exciting new project that's slated to be housed at the former St. Marys Paper site. Entomica will feature insect displays and learning space. Set to be located in the old St. Marys pulp tower, the complex will teach patrons about a variety of insects and provide a hands-on experience. The SSMEDC and its Tourism Sault Ste. Marie division have been working with Blueforest Ventures on this major waterfront redevelopment project for some time. Entomica is one of several components of an overall Destination North attraction going on the site.
  • Last month, the SSMEDC helped organize and host a Youth Engagement Forum. The event attracted more than 100 youth and reps from youth service providers. The forum set out to engage youth and youth workers to gain information about the barriers, gaps and opportunities that exist related to education, employment and entrepreneurship, and to mobilize the community to act on the opportunities and challenges identified. In identifying solutions, a report and video were developed. The latter is available at www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ncZ5huJ-GY.
  • The SSMEDC has been busy lately, developing a number of new and unique vacation packages and working with local accommodations and attractions partners to get ready for bookings for the summer travelling season. Several years ago, Tourism Sault Ste. Marie introduced a state-of-the-art visitor reservation system, the first of its kind in Northern Ontario. The web-based system, which featured accommodation and attraction options like the Agawa Canyon Train Tour, allows travellers to book their trips to Sault Ste. Marie with the simple click of a mouse. To cater to different types of visitors, new packages are being developed, including a fly-fishing adventure opportunity and concert packages at the Essar Centre.

March 21, 2014

  • Between March 19 and 22, the Soo Curlers Association is home to the Canadian Colleges Athletics Association (CCAA) National Curling Championships. The tournament includes 16 teams and 120 delegates from across the country. Sault College is hosting the bonspiel. Given the economic impact of the event, in terms of visitor spending, our SSMEDC Tourism Sault Ste. Marie division supported the local college in securing the championships.
  • The SSMEDC's Business Retention and Expansion (BR&E) Programs aims to assist local companies with their growth plans. Since the beginning of 2014, our team has met with 23 firms to discuss expansion options and incentive programs available to help get the projects off the ground. The projects involved represent a total investment of more than $22 million and have the potential to create or retain up to 160 jobs in the community. Since the BR&E Program began in July 2010, the SSMEDC has worked with several dozen companies in their growth projects, activity that helped create or retain more than 1,000 jobs while expanding the community's tax base.
  • The SSMEDC recently partnered with Startup Sault. The volunteer-led group brings together entrepreneurs, investors, mentors and small business service providers to create a supportive and knowledgeable environment where business startups can flourish. Sault Ste. Marie now joins 20 other Startup communities across the country. Startup Sault held its inaugural event on Thursday at Algoma's Water Tower Inn.
  • On Wednesday, the SSMEDC hosted an evening workshop for people impacted by the announced cancellation of Algoma Central Railway (ACR) passenger service. Specifically, the meeting was meant for stakeholders to discuss and fill out a survey, which is being used to help assess the economic impact of the Sault-to-Hearst rail line. More than 30 stakeholders attended the workshop, which was hosted in the SSMEDC offices at the Civic Centre.

March 14, 2014

  • Paul Fowler is taking his entrepreneurial drive and love of poutine to open a new restaurant in downtown Sault Ste. Marie. Smoke's Poutinerie, located beside Top Hat, is scheduled to open next month. To get to where he is today, Fowler first met with the enterprise team at the SSMEDC. Together, they worked on business planning, accessing funding sources and other start-up matters.
  • The SSMEDC and City are working with other stakeholders to keep the ACR passenger rail line in operation. To help make a business case to the Federal Government that the transportation link is well worth investing in, the SSMEDC programmed and designed a digital survey for land owners, tourism operators and other affected people to list the impact that cancelling ACR passenger service will have on them. The results of the survey will be used by BDO Canada LLP in its economic impact assessment of the rail line.
  • In an effort to promote Sault Ste. Marie as a four-season vacation destination, the SSMEDC's Tourism Sault Ste. Marie division recently unveiled its 2014 Visitors Guide. The document, available in both hard copy and digital form, is one of the community's signature tourism marketing pieces. It contains information on attractions, festivals, accommodations and other visitor-related topics. Tourism Sault Ste. Marie facilitates the publication of the annual Visitors Guide and distributes it to strategic locations, mostly across Ontario and Michigan.
  • A contest is now underway where high school students are being asked to make a short video pitch of their business idea. The winners earn a trip to Toronto, along with tools and mentoring to help turn their idea into reality. The SSMEDC is helping to promote and administer the Make Your Pitch contest in Sault Ste. Marie and the Algoma region.

March 7, 2014

  • Will the Sault host part of the 2015 World Junior Hockey Championship? The SSMEDC's Tourism Sault Ste. Marie division, along with the City, is giving it a shot. Hockey Canada is aiming to have exhibition games and development camps across the country prior to next year's international tournament. Home to the Essar Centre, the most modern sports and entertainment complex in the region, the Sault seems like a perfect fit. Tourism Sault Ste. Marie and the City are now courting Hockey Canada to consider the downtown venue as one of the 2015 World Junior pre-tournament sites.
  • The Sault Ste. Marie area contains numerous past-producing mines that could be reactivated and redeveloped. The community also has specialty machine shops and other businesses that can service and supply the mining industry. To promote these two facts to mining companies from around the world, the SSMEDC attended the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) conference this week in Toronto. The event attracts more than 30,000 people from over 120 countries.
  • The SSMEDC's Tourism Sault Ste. Marie division received a $50,000 investment this week from the Ontario Ministry of Tourism to help develop a business plan for a Destination Attraction on the former St. Marys Paper site. The owner of the property, Riversedge Developments/Blueforest Ventures, a client of the SSMEDC, is working to establish multiple uses for the downtown land. The recent funding announcement from the Province puts the company and the community one step further ahead in their major waterfront redevelopment project.
  • In 2013, Connie Carello used her skills and talent, along with some start-up assistance from the SSMEDC, to open CC Communications. The company, which acts as a social media manager and content writer for its clients, has since been in growth mode. In light of her entrepreneurial drive and community involvement, Carello was recognized this week by the Business and Professional Women's Organization of Sault Ste. Marie during its annual International Women's Day event.