Weekly Activity Reports - March 2015

March 27, 2015

  • On Monday, SSMEDC CEO Tom Dodds presented the Corporation's 2014 activity and results to City Council. Highlights include: last year, the SSMEDC's business support programs and services helped generate 37 business startups and expansions, which created or retained 358 jobs. Between 2010 and 2014, this activity generated 165 startups and expansions while creating or retaining 1,600 jobs. Meanwhile, in 2014, Tourism Sault Ste. Marie's work at attracting events and selling vacation packages led to 22,780 visitor days and $3.2 million in direct visitor spending. Over the past five years, this activity from the SSMEDC division generated 173,280 visitor days and $24.4 million in direct visitor spending. Reporting to City Council on its activity is a requirement of the Memorandum of Understanding agreement between the SSMEDC and City.
  • Algoma University hosted its ninth annual Business Case Competition this week. The event sees fourth-year Business students tackle an enterprise issue and come up with solutions. At this year's competition, former Dragon's Den star Bruce Croxon and CBC Radio personality Terry O'Reilly acted as special judges and mentors. Meanwhile, as he has in previous years, Andrew Ross, the SSMEDC's Manager of Enterprise Services, was also a judge at the 2015 event. A 2004 graduate of the university's Business program, Andrew is a current board member and former chair of the Algoma U Alumni Council. He remains involved with the institution, including acting as a judge for its Business Plan Competition, to give back to the school while promoting SSMEDC enterprise programs and services that students - particularly Business graduates - can take advantage of.
  • There's less than one week left to support the community's bid for the 2017 Brier by reserving a seat for the event. Tourism Sault Ste. Marie, a division of the SSMEDC, and other local groups are looking to secure the men's national curling championships. To help bolster its case to the Curling Canada, citizens and businesses are being asked to make $50 deposits on tickets. The deadline to reserve a seat is March 31. By making a deposit, registrants are guaranteed a seat, should the city's bid be successful. If unsuccessful, the deposit is 100% refundable. To reserve a seat, or for more info, visit www.ssmbrier2017.com. St. John's, Newfoundland, is also working on a bid package for the 2017 Brier. The community is seeking ticket deposits from its citizens as well. Whichever city can sell the most deposits will certainly have a leg-up.
  • The SSMEDC receives funding from the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure to provide small business enterprise services throughout the Algoma District and Chapleau. Under this agreement, a staffer travelled to Elliot Lake last week. While there, he provided consultations to several entrepreneurs and assisted the community in developing its economic development programs. Though the primary focus of the SSMEDC is Sault Ste. Marie and supporting local businesses/entrepreneurs, the Corporation is mandated by the Province of Ontario to also provide services in the surrounding communities. As such, the SSMEDC engages in several of these types of entrepreneurial training and consultation trips throughout the region each year.

March 20, 2015

  • Nearly 700 nursing students from across the country will gather in Sault Ste. Marie next year when the community hosts the 2016 National Conference of the Canadian Nursing Students' Association. Taking place January 27 to 30, the event is expected to inject around $500,000 of direct visitor spending into the local economy. The conference was secured by Sault College nursing students, who travelled to the 2015 CNSA National Conference in Regina to present their ideas about bringing the event to the Sault in 2016. Their bid, which was developed in cooperation with Tourism Sault Ste. Marie, included a bilingual presentation, supporting documents and an innovative promotional video. As one of its primary functions, Tourism Sault Ste. Marie, a division of the SSMEDC, works with community groups to attract major events like this to the city.
  • The local airport is undertaking a major growth and enhancement initiative thanks to a recently-announced $1-million investment from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation. The project will expand and realign the terminal area to make room for additional airline services, passenger amenities and more office space for carriers. In addition to the jobs created by the expansion, the project is expected to create six full-time employment opportunities and help retain current jobs at the airport. The NOHFC funding application and associated business case were developed by the Sault Ste. Marie Airport Development Corporation, the non-profit organization that runs the airport, with support from the SSMEDC. The two agencies are longtime partners and have worked together on a number of growth initiatives over the years.
  • Over the next decade, the Government of Canada is expected to spend some $25 billion on national defence projects. The SSMEDC is working to ensure Sault Ste. Marie firms get in on the action. Earlier this week, a staffer attended a FedNor-facilitated business-to-business matchmaking event. At the forum, four major Canadian defense contractors met with regional companies to discuss partnership opportunities. In order for major defense contractors to bid on government projects, the work must be 100% Canadian made. As a result, there exists a solid opportunity for local companies, such as steel and metal fabrication firms, to sell to these contractors. In order to do so, suppliers must have their "Controlled Goods" designation. Four companies in the Sault now have that status, and the SSMEDC is working with other local firms to add to that list.
  • At the last City Council meeting, the NORDIK Institute received a $28,325 investment from the Municipality's Economic Development Fund (EDF). The money, to be used with additional investments totaling $238,550 from the Province of Ontario, is going towards NORDIK's project of providing animation to the John Rowswell Hub Trail in the form of a web portal, mobile device application, trail guide and audio tour. The end goal, along with creating jobs and helping to attract visitors, is to enhance the trail experience by providing historical, cultural and ecological information on the surrounding lands. The NORDIK Institute is a research organization affiliated with Algoma University. Meanwhile, EDF applications are processed by the SSMEDC. The Corporation's Board of Directors then reviews the applications and provide recommendations to City Council.

March 13, 2015

  • Railmark Canada is set to assume the operations of the ACR passenger service. The company, a subsidiary of Railmark Holdings, recently finalized a set of agreements with CN to take over the rail line. Railmark, which has experience operating short-line railways and tourist train expeditions in 19 countries, has a plan in place to increase offerings and ridership to ensure the long-term viability of the Sault-to-Hearst passenger service. Meanwhile, the ACR Passenger Service Working Group is awaiting a response from Transport Canada regarding a request by stakeholders to provide a limited, short-term investment needed to keep the remote passenger line operating. Chaired by City CAO Joe Fratesi, the Working Group includes representatives from the SSMEDC and Tourism Sault Ste. Marie.
  • As one of its main activities, the SSMEDC assists clients with business planning, growth projects and accessing funding sources. As an example, one of its clients, Boniferro Mill Works, recently received a $1-million investment from the Province of Ontario. The funding was part of a $3-million expansion project from the company, which includes the purchase of major pieces of equipment that are allowing the mill to accommodate current upgrades and future growth. Ultimately, the investment is helping the firm retain 50 jobs while creating between 30 and 35 direct and indirect positions. Boniferro Mill Works is a longtime client of the SSMEDC. The two have worked together on a number of initiatives over the years, the most recent being the $3-million retention and expansion project.
  • The Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO) develops, monitors and enforces travel-related regulations on behalf of the Provincial Government. Though travel agencies and tour operators have been its primary focus, TICO is now looking to develop a relationship with local and regional tourism bureaus that package and sell vacation opportunities to consumers in Ontario. When the Province recently began looking for someone from this sector to sit on the TICO Board of Directors, the search began to find a suitable candidate from a respected tourism organization. Tourism Sault Ste. Marie, a division of the SSMEDC, certainly fits this bill. As such, Executive Director Ian McMillan was appointed to a 3-year term on the TICO Board last month.
  • On Tuesday, various local groups, including the SSMEDC, hosted the 2015 Youth Engagement Forum. Held at the Mill Square Machine Shop, the event attracted several hundred youth and their allies throughout the community. At the forum, ideas were generated on how to make Sault Ste. Marie more appealing to youth and, ultimately, how to make the city an even greater place to live, learn, work and play. Along with its support in planning and hosting the event, the SSMEDC also helped facilitate a business competition during the forum. As well, the Corporation's staff manned an information booth where its young entrepreneur programs, including Summer Company and Starter Company, were promoted.

March 6, 2015

  • The SSMEDC's Small Business Incubator is set to open this spring. The project has undergone considerable progress these past few months, with funding secured and a downtown location selected. With these advancements, the Small Business Incubator was recently profiled on Sault This Week and CTV news. The coverage can be viewed at www.saultthisweek.com/2015/03/03/business-program-to-move-downtown and http://northernontario.ctvnews.ca/video?&binId=1.1142313. When established, the facility will provide a space for entrepreneurs to operate their budding companies through the support of direct services, including mentoring and marketing assistance. The goal is to assist business owners to help them maximize their potential and develop sustainable, long term operations.
  • As one of its primary activities, the SSMEDC helps its clients - mostly private sector businesses - access funding sources to grow, retain or start their companies. To help streamline this process, SSMEDC staff held a joint meeting today with government and non-profit agencies that provide such investments: the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation, FedNor - Industry Canada, Business Development Bank of Canada, and Community Development Corporation. The SSMEDC assists its clients in finding assistance for information and, ultimately, helps them develop funding applications to these organizations. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss opportunities and plan activities that parties can work together on. The overall goal is to help spur investment and job creation in Sault Ste. Marie.
  • In its efforts to promote the community's potential bid to host the 2017 Tim Hortons Brier, Tourism Sault Ste. Marie is asking area residents and businesses to make a refundable $50 deposit on tickets. The more deposits received, the stronger the city's bid to the Canadian Curling Association will be. To help the bid process, Tourism Sault Ste. Marie, a division of the SSMEDC, has been busy this week shooting support videos from various groups throughout the community. The short clips feature the group proclaiming their support for the 2017 Brier before yelling "Our House, Your Brier!" To view the videos, make a ticket deposit or to learn more about the Sault's bid, visit www.ssmbrier2017.com.
  • Point 1: Every year, the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) conference attracts tens of thousands people and organizations from mining organizations from more than 100 countries around the world. Point 2: the Sault Ste. Marie area houses many past-producing mines that, with some investments, could be reactivated and redeveloped. Point 3: The Sault is also home to a number of specialized fabrication facilities and other businesses that can service and supply the mining sector. To promote the latter two points to the global mining industry, the SSMEDC attended the 2015 PDAC conference, which was held in Toronto from March 1 to 4. At the event, a number of solid leads were generated, which could translate to significant opportunities for local businesses and the area economy in years to come.