Weekly Activity Reports - March 2016

March 24, 2016

  • A key activity for the SSMEDC is supporting local businesses in their startup and expansion projects. One way the organization does this is by helping clients secure investments from various sources, including the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation, FedNor - Industry Canada and the Business Development Bank of Canada. For example, the SSMEDC is currently working on six active funding applications for a variety of companies and organizations in Sault Ste. Marie. Under its Business Retention and Expansion (BR&E) Program, the SSMEDC assists clients in accessing investments from senior levels of government. In 2015, the organization's BR&E activity with clients generated more than $16 million in community investments and helped create or retain well over 100 jobs.
  • During the 1950s, 60s and 70s, area residents would often spend days cruising Queen Street to meet up with friends, show off the cars and check out other vehicles. Today, a group of community volunteers is working to bring the pastime back. Co-Chaired by Joseph Bisceglia and Gary Trembinski, the Queen Street Cruise Committee announced this week that the group is planning an inaugural Cruise weekend for June 17 and 18. Also, to keep the public informed of this and subsequent events, the committee launched a website, www.queenstreetcruise.com. A representative from Tourism Sault Ste. Marie attended the initial planning meeting of the Queen Street Cruise Committee. Tourism Sault Ste. Marie, which works to attract visitors to the community, is hoping to utilize future Cruise events to draw car enthusiasts from Michigan and other areas.
  • The SSMEDC is rolling out an initiative to increase exporting and partnership opportunities for local businesses. In collaboration with Northstar Consulting, the Corporation is developing Enhanced Business Profiles to identify the specific expertise of up to 150 leading companies in the Sault. Once complete, the SSMEDC will better understand local expertise and capabilities, allowing its staff to promote the specialized products and services to external markets and facilitate the development of strategic partnerships. This initiative is part of Investment Sault Ste. Marie, a three-year program aimed to enhance the community's economic development capacity and performance in key sectors. The overall goal is to attract investment, create jobs and generate wealth for the community. Invest Sault Ste. Marie is being made possible with support from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund and FedNor.
  • The SSMEDC is a main partner in StartUP Sault, an entrepreneur-led, volunteer group working to bolster the local small business sector by providing resources and programming while connecting entrepreneurs to existing small business resources. Last week, StartUP Sault launched a new online Startup Roadmap for local entrepreneurs and businesses. Working with its community partners, StartUP Sault developed the tool as a quick and handy resource for new and existing entrepreneurs. The Roadmap focuses on three main stages of small business development: idea, launch and growth. Users can easily identify the local services available at each stage, such as business counselling, training and events, funding opportunities, and much more. Both digital and print versions of the infographic are available at www.startupsault.com.

March 18, 2016

  • Last week, the SSMEDC promoted the capabilities of local businesses, along with their ability to service the mining sector, to global mining organizations at the 2016 Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) Convention. The annual event brings together mining firms and suppliers from countries around the world. With Sault Ste. Marie machine shops and other suppliers able to service the mining industry, the SSMEDC generated a number of solid leads that are now being followed up on. Supporting local companies by developing these types of business-to-business partnerships is a main activity of the SSMEDC.
  • There's light at the end of the train tunnel for the Algoma Central Railway passenger line. Missanabie Cree First Nation is now heading the ACR Passenger Service Working Group. With the First Nation taking the lead on the project, there's more opportunity to find a long-term solution to make the service sustainable. Formed in February 2014 after Transport Canada announced its intention to cut its annual investment in the ACR passenger service, the Working Group represents a larger committee of concerned regional stakeholders, including the SSMEDC. In April 2014, the group was successful at obtaining government approval to extend the service for one year. In March 2015, the Working Group was able to get Transport Canada approval for an additional three years of operating investments for the passenger rail service.
  • In May, Sault Ste. Marie is hosting the 2016 Spring Symposium of the Economic Developers Council of Ontario (EDCO). Expected to attract dozens of industry professionals from across the province, the event was secured by SSMEDC CEO Tom Dodds, who sits on the EDCO Board of Directors, with support from Tourism Sault Ste. Marie. To help promote the conference, the SSMEDC's Corporate Services division created an in-house website this week. It's available at www.edcossm2016.com. The site contains information on the event, along with the community and area attractions. The 2016 EDCO Spring Symposium is taking place May 17 and 18 at various venues throughout Sault Ste. Marie. More.
  • The SSMEDC's Nevin Buconjic gave a keynote presentation last week to a dozen entrepreneurs and community leaders at a networking and information event hosted by the Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre. The session focused on how StartUP Sault is working with community partners to build a more supportive environment for entrepreneurs. StartUP Sault is an entrepreneur-led, volunteer group working to bolster the Sault's small business sector by providing resources and programming and connecting entrepreneurs to existing small business resources.  Nevin, a serial entrepreneur and founder of StartUP Sault, was recently hired to fill the SSMEDC position of Manager of Trade, Investment & Community Marketing.

March 11, 2016

  • Last week, MPP David Orazietti announced that the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation is providing $1.2 million over three years to support the community's efforts to grow its lottery and gaming sector. This investment, which is in additional to funds already committed by the Municipality and other partners, will be used to assist the Sault in capitalizing on opportunities arising from the modernization of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation. The Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre is leading this initiative, with the SSMEDC and other organizations contributing significant supporting roles. At the announcement, NOHFC Board member James Caicco gave kudos to the various groups that are making this project possible. "The SSMEDC team has been a solid resource, and their efforts helped get this funding application approved," he said.
  • This week, SSMEDC staff delivered keynote addresses to a pair of community groups. On Wednesday morning, Andrew Ross, Manager of Enterprise Services, spoke at an International Women's Day forum from the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce. On Thursday, Zoltan Virag, Manager of Small Business Advisory Services, presented at a networking event hosted by Sault Women In Business. This type of activity is designed to promote the SSMEDC's enterprise services and programs. The goal is to support current and aspiring entrepreneurs their business startup and expansion projects, which ultimately creates and retains jobs in the community. In 2015, SSMEDC staff conducted 58 outreach presentations to various groups and delivered 40 seminars and workshops. The total attendance at these small business support events was more than 1,200.
  • With the snow melting and spring on the horizon, Tourism Sault Ste. Marie is ramping up its marketing efforts around the Agawa Canyon Tour Train, the region's number one travel generator, along with other summer attractions, festivals and events. For the past several weeks, Tourism Sault Ste. Marie staff have been busy processing package bookings on its online reservation system. The organization unveiled the web-based portal in 2011 and, at that time, it was the first of its kind in Northern Ontario. There has been a steady growth in bookings year-after-year ever since. In 2015, a total of 3,284 packages were sold on the online reservation system, which generated more than $1 million in sales. In 2016, Tourism Sault Ste. Marie hopes to top that and have the best year yet.
  • The SSMEDC team has been visiting area high schools for the past couple of weeks to promote the Summer Company young entrepreneur program. Economic Development Officer Angela Bruni has been to five classes so far, with plans to visit many more over the coming month. Applications are now open for the 2016 Summer Company season. Funded by the Province of Ontario, the program provides grants and mentoring to assist high school and university student in starting and running a business during the summer months. To apply, visit www.ontario.ca/page/start-summer-company-students or contact Angela at 705-759-2616 or a.bruni@ssmedc.ca. The SSMEDC administers Summer Company throughout the Algoma District and Chapleau. Since 2010, the Corporation has mentored a total of 72 youth in the region through the program.

March 4, 2016

  • What is economic development? In an upcoming Chamber of Commerce Business Today column titled Economic Development Explained, the SSMEDC's Dan Hollingsworth answers this question. "Unlike some public services, economic development isn't always an easily-understandable topic," he writes. "The traditional - and largely outdated - notion is that economic development is about bringing car plants and other major manufacturing operations to the city. While we do focus on these types of leads, smaller communities like ours also concentrate on attracting companies that employ a few dozen or few hundred people." The column, which includes recent SSMEDC activities and results generated, is currently available on the Corporation's website at: http://www.sault-canada.com/en/NewsModule/index.aspx?corpId=bcTKpWSE7Op9PiMXuaTQLQeQuAleQuAl&newsId=VoO5VUspvO0PkAEjOFMx3AeQuAleQuAl.
  • Sault Ste. Marie has secured the hosting rights to the National, a Pinty's Grand Slam of Curling event, for the next two years. The 2016 tournament will take place December 6 to 11, and the 2017 bonspiel will run November 14 to 19. Both events will take place at the Essar Centre. The Community First Curling Centre, including Manager Brad Jacobs, will facilitate the event with volunteers and City staff. Ticket and schedule information will be released at a later date. The 2016 and 2017 Nationals were secured by the City of Sault Ste. Marie - in particular, the Essar Centre division of its Community Services Department. Tourism Sault Ste. Marie provided support during the bid process. The organization, which works to attract visitors, will be marketing the event and offering ticket and accommodation packages through its website and online reservation system.
  • This week, the SSMEDC released the inaugural 2016 edition of its bimonthly newsletter, The Pulse. The publication contains economic development stories on the community and is designed to keep citizens, partners and clients informed of SSMEDC activity, along with its programs and services. A sample of the stories featured in this edition include: Arauco-SSMEDC partnership comes to successful fruition, SSSMEDC advocates policy changes for steel industry, Partnership forms unique employment program, and 2016 starting off with a bang for local events. The Pulse is available at: http://www.sault-canada.com/en/aboutus/newsletter.asp. Newsletters are one of many corporate communications methods used by the SSMEDC. Others include annual reports, social media, Shaw TV and other videos, weekly activity reports, and regular media releases.
  • Last year, Tourism Sault Ste. Marie assumed all   marketing responsibilities for the Agawa Canyon Tour Train from CN. With a shift in promotional focus, along with other factors, ridership on the attraction topped 30,000 in 2015 for the first time in eight years. For the upcoming tour train season, Tourism Sault Ste. Marie is taking on additional responsibilities. The organization is currently seeking tenders for the operation of Food and Beverage Catering Services aboard the attraction. Acknowledgement of intent to submit a tender must be received by Wednesday, March 9, 2016. A complete Tender Document may be obtained at the Tourism Sault Ste. Marie office at the Civic Centre. For more information on the tender, please visit www.sault-canada.com/en/aboutus/howtodobusinesswithssmedc.asp.