Weekly Activity Reports - May 2015

May 29, 2015

  • The SSMEDC has been working to help ensure local companies can capitalize on the Federal Government's $25 billion in national defense sector spending over the next decade. To that end, this week, a member of the Corporation's Business Development team attended the CANSEC Conference, the largest industry event in the country. While there, the SSMEDC rep met with a number of major defense contractors to showcase the capabilities of area businesses that can provide products and services. When bidding on a defense project, primary contractors are required to use Canadian suppliers. In order to provide goods and services to these major defense contractors, a company must first have their "Controlled Goods" status. Several local firms now have this certificate, and the SSMEDC is working with several others to help them obtain the designation.
  • Tourism Sault Ste. Marie works to increase visitation levels to the community. One way the SSMEDC division does this is by marketing area attractions to foreign group travel organizations. On this front, last week, Tourism Sault Ste. Marie hosted a familiarization (FAM) tour with 12 group travel companies from Japan, Germany, Austria, Netherlands, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Western Canada. Having done their homework on the Sault area, these organizations are now selling the region to their local travellers. Meanwhile, this week, Ian McMillan, Executive Director of Tourism Sault Ste. Marie, attended Rendez-vous Canada, the country's premier international tourism marketplace. While there, he met with a number of foreign group travel agencies. This activity will increase group travel to the Sault in the coming months and years.
  • The SSMEDC's Twitter page, @SaultEDC, reached a milestone this week. On Tuesday, the account garnered its 1,000th follower. The growth in the Corporation's site is a direct result of daily activity and frequent two-way communication, both of which are crucial to maintain and grow a following on Twitter. The SSMEDC began using this social media platform a few years back, and it has since become one of the Corporation's main communications tools. SSMEDC communications, which also includes routine press releases, newsletters, Shaw TV news segments, website news stories and a number of other methods, is designed to inform the public and partners of its activity and results generated, thus demonstrating accountability. It's also meant to promote the Corporation's programs and services, along with the Sault's competitive advantages.
  • This week, summer students began their seasonal positions with the SSMEDC. Over the next three months, Jessica Aceti, Rachel Iacoe and Jenna Marsh will be working on a number of projects, including the Business Directory. Each year, the SSMEDC, in partnership with the Chamber of Commerce, produces a digital and hard copy report that lists virtually every known business and in the Sault. The document provides current information on employers and the sectors they operate in, making it particularly useful when external firms are looking for a place to locate to and they want current data on the capabilities of area businesses. As one of their tasks, the summer students contact new and existing companies to record their info. The student positions are made possible with funding from Service Canada and Northern Ontario Heritage Fund.

May 22, 2015

  • The SSMEDC will soon be rolling out a major investment attraction campaign. The three-year project, called Invest Sault Ste. Marie (I-SSM), received $100,000 from FedNor, it was announced yesterday. The initiative will bolster the community's efforts to attract companies and investment, which will create jobs and generate wealth. I-SSM received a previous commitment of $100,000 from City Council's Economic Development Fund. Between 2001 and 2009, with funding from all levels of government, the SSMEDC undertook a similar, large-scale investment attraction initiative, which led to a number of companies setting up shop here, including Arauco's Melamine Lamination Facility (formerly Flakeboard), JD Aero and Ellsin. Using this past initiative as a benchmark, I-SSM is expected to help create or retain an average of 150 to 200 jobs per year.
  • The SSMEDC's past business and investment attraction campaigns are continuing to pay dividends for Sault Ste. Marie. Several years back, during a time of significant downturn for the local economy, the Corporation worked to attract a number of business-process-outsourcing centres to the community. Two of them, Agero and Sutherland Global Services, continue to be thriving in Sault Ste. Marie. Agero, a world-leading provider of roadside assistance and driver safety/information services, currently employs 450 people at its Pim Street location. The company is now in the process of adding 150 more people and recently embarked on a hiring blitz. Meanwhile, last month, Sutherland Global Services embarked on a hiring campaign of its own, as the company is looking to fill 250 new positions at its Old Garden River Road site.
  • Tourism Sault Ste. Marie, along with its counterparts in a few other cities across the region, recently formed a strategic partnership with Porter Airlines. The goal is to promote attractions and major events, thus increasing air travel to and from Northern Ontario. For Tourism Sault Ste. Marie and the other regional cities, the goal is to ultimately build on Porter's convenient service from downtown Toronto to increase visitor levels to Northern Ontario from outside the regular rubber tire market. This initiative, which is being supported by the Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership Corporation, will include an e-mail campaign to Porter's VIP customers, along with Northern Ontario packages being highlighted on the airline's website. Tourism Sault Ste. Marie is a division of the SSMEDC.
  • Over the past two years, the City's downtown redevelopment plans and a number of related initiatives, including the buildup of the former St. Marys Paper site, have been taking place in an area known as the "Canal District." This unique opportunity is a major urban renewal initiative that integrates economic development, small business development, social enterprise and planning. To maximize opportunities, the SSMEDC is seeking to engage the services of a qualified individual to provide project management services in support of Canal District Initiatives. Proponents must submit their proposals by Friday, May 29 at 12 p.m. For more information, or to see the RFP, visit http://www.sault-canada.com/en/aboutus/ssmedcjobs.asp. Funding for this position is coming from the City's Economic Development Fund and private sector contributions.

May 15, 2015

  • Over the past few months, the SSMEDC has been working with local entrepreneur Jesse Jordan. He recently establish Contained Space, a company that will soon be manufacturing small homes, cottages, commercial spaces and other structures based on modified shipping containers. Jesse, a research and development specialist, has long been fascinated by the "tiny home" concept, believing it to be the way of the future given the planet's population growth and limited real estate. To help turn his vision into reality, he enrolled in the SSMEDC's Starter Company program and received mentoring from the Corporation's staff. Jesse is currently constructing his prototype concept, which he plans to use for promotional purposes in order to sell the Contained Space methodology locally and abroad. More information can be found at www.containedspace.ca.
  • Sault Ste. Marie appears to be a front runner to host the 2015 World U-17 Hockey Challenge. Scheduled October 31 to November 8, the event features eight teams from around the globe. The tournament attracts hundreds of visitors and injects a significant amount of capital into the host city's economy. For instance, the 2014 event generated nearly $2 million in GDP, half of which occurred in the host community. And with the final games broadcast on national TV, there are promotional benefits as well. Tourism Sault Ste. Marie, a division of the SSMEDC, in partnership with the City, is working with Hockey Canada to secure the hosting rights for the 2015 World U-17 Hockey Challenge. City Council has committed to support the event with a $25,000 (max) investment. Hockey Canada is expected to have an official announcement this summer following its annual meeting.
  • This week, more than 100 local and regional high school students gathered in Sault Ste. Marie to take part in the third-annual Enterprise Olympics. The event, held this year at Algoma University and Sault College, caters to teens who want to learn about owning their own business. At the forum, participants develop business plans and make their pitch to a panel of judges. The students also heard keynote speeches from successful entrepreneurs. The 2015 Enterprise Olympics was facilitated by the Community Development Corporation of Sault Ste. Marie & Area. A number of area groups and individuals also helped coordinate the event. For instance, wanting to support and promote entrepreneurship in the region, a member of the SSMEDC sat on the event Organizing Committee. Another SSMEDC business consultant acted as a finalist judge.
  • For youth looking for a job this summer, there's still a few weeks left to register for an entrepreneurship program. Summer Company provides students with $3,000 grants to operate their own seasonal business. With limited space, applicants are encouraged to register as soon as possible. To sign up for the program, or to learn more, visit www.ontario.ca/summercompany. Summer Company, not to be confused with Starter Company, is administered in the region by the SSMEDC. Funded by the Province of Ontario, the program is open to people between the ages of 15 and 29 who are returning to school. For further details, contact Kendall Scott at 705-759-2616 or k.scott@ssmedc.ca. Last year, 18 students took part in the program. A number of past participants even turned their seasonal business into a full-time, year-round operation.

May 8, 2015

  • Sault Ste. Marie has been a hotbed of film productions these past few years, and this trend is slated to continue. Love of My Life is currently shooting in the community. The feature movie, which received a $500,000 investment from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation to be filmed in the region, tells the story of an architect who finds out she only has a few days to live. When a movie production comes to the community, the SSMEDC provides support to the visiting crew and helps them navigate through the Municipal approval process. In 2014, the Corporation assisted with several such productions, including Remember (starring Christopher Plummer and Martin Landau), Fall and Coconut Hero. Film shoots inject money into the local economy, which is why the SSMEDC provides this type of support.
  • As one of its key activities, the SSMEDC helps clients in accessing funds for growth projects that create and retain jobs. In many cases, the endeavour is a large-scale initiative such as building expansions or capital equipment purchase. In other cases, the project is more secondary in nature. As one example of the latter, the local airport is embarking on a marketing and communications campaign to help increase passenger traffic. Airport management is now seeking to hire a Communications Coordinator Intern. The position is being made possible thanks to an investment from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund. The SSMEDC, a longtime partner of the airport, has expertise in developing these types of grant applications. As such, SSMEDC staff assisted airport management in writing the application, and the two organizations continue to work together on the marketing campaign and other joint initiatives.
  • Yesterday and today, Sault Ste. Marie is hosting a meeting of the Northern Committee of the Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership Corporation (OTMPC). The group is responsible for providing direction to the OTMPC staff, in terms of developing new products and experiences, and implementing the annual Northern Ontario Tourism marketing plan. The Committee is made up of industry professionals from across the region, includes representation from Tourism Sault Ste. Marie, a division of the SSMEDC. At the meeting, tactics for new marketing activities aimed at the rebounding U.S. market are being discussed. Meanwhile, attracting these types of meetings and conventions, which attract visitors and visitor spending, is a main activity of Tourism Sault Ste. Marie.
  • Last week, four members of the SSMEDC team took part in a comprehensive, five-day economic development training program offered by the University of Waterloo and Economic Developers Association of Canada. The annual course sees dozens of workers from economic development and related sectors across the country gather to learn best practices from industry and academic leaders. Normally, the SSMEDC sends one staff member to the course every few years. However, in 2015, there was considerable funding available from senior levels of government through the recently-announced Canada-Ontario Jobs Grant, which provides direct financial support for employers who wish to purchase training for their workforce. As such, it made good financial sense for the SSMEDC to send several staff members to the University Waterloo this year.