Weekly Activity Reports - October 2015

October 30, 2015

  • The SSMEDC and Airport Development Corporation recently formed a formal partnership. The goal: develop the airport site with additional industrial and commercial components. Under the agreement, they will focus on three growth areas: attracting companies that are a good fit to be located at the airport, identify opportunities for businesses and organizations currently on the site, and work to draw additional air carriers. To achieve these goals, the organizations are undertaking joint development and promotional initiatives. The SSMEDC and Airport Development Corporation are longtime partners and have collaborated on a number of successful projects, such as securing $1 million from the Province of Ontario to move forward with a $2-million expansion in 2015, landing Porter Airlines in 2011, and attracting JD Aero in 2007.
  • Last week, Tourism Sault Ste. Marie and the organizing committee for the 2016 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge hosted representatives from Hockey Canada. While here, the dignitaries toured local sports venues and accommodation facilities in preparation for next year's international tournament. The Hockey Canada brass, along with event organizers, also dropped the ceremonial opening faceoff puck at the October 23 Soo Greyhounds game. Hockey Canada recently awarded the 2016 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge to Sault Ste. Marie. Taking place next year from October 28 to November 6, the tournament features eight teams from around the globe and will attract hundreds of visitors to the community. The event was bid on by Tourism Sault Ste. Marie, in partnership with the City of Sault Ste. Marie.
  • An SSMEDC staffer visited Central Algoma Secondary School last week. While there, he presented to an Entrepreneurship class on some of the youth business programs offered by the Corporation. A main topic was Summer Company. Funded by the Province of Ontario, the SSMEDC-delivered initiative provides mentoring and grants to assist high school and post-secondary students in starting a summer business. This type of promotional activity delivers results. For example, due to the Corporation's outreach, 72 youth in the region took part in the Summer Company program between 2010 and 2015. That means dozens of young people were able to secure employment and remain in their hometown during the summer. Also, several participants turned their businesses into full-time, year-round operations, which speaks to the success of Summer Company.
  • The SSMEDC released its October edition of The Pulse today. The bimonthly newsletter contains economic development stories on Sault Ste. Marie and highlights the activity of the Corporation, along with its business and tourism clients. This publication is one of many corporate communications methods used by the SSMEDC. Others include social media, routine press releases and website news stories, Shaw TV and other video news segments, public information sessions, weekly activity reports, articles and columns that appear in external publications, annual reports, and special initiatives rolled out each year. The goal of SSMEDC corporate communications activity is to keep citizens, partners and clients informed of the Corporation's activity, its programs and services, and the competitive business advantages in Sault Ste. Marie.

October 23, 2015

  • The SSMEDC's Business Retention and Expansion Program has generated considerable successes as of late. One example is Guy's B & R CSN Collision Centre, which recently moved into a new facility, part of a $3.4-million project to modernize equipment and services. This initiative is expected to create 11 full-time jobs and help retain 15 current positions. The expansion was made possible with a $900,000 investment from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund. As part of its Business Retention and Expansion Program, the SSMEDC assists its clients in securing funds from this and other sources. From 2010 to 2014, under the program, the SSMEDC worked with 58 firms on growth projects, which helped create or retain over 1,400 jobs. This activity was the result of more than 250 on-site client consultations and well over 1,000 hours of SSMEDC staff time.
  • Using its core funding from the City, the SSMEDC significantly leverages these resources to undertake projects in the community. As an example, it was announced this week that the Corporation is receiving $60,703 from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund to help deliver the ACR Passenger Service Retention Project and a small business development initiative. In 2014, the SSMEDC received from the City $1,425,925 in core funding, $168,656 in support of tourism marketing, $92,393 for Destiny Sault Ste. Marie initiatives, and $73,678 for special projects financed by City Council's Economic Diversification Fund. Using this funding, the Corporation secured $2.34 million from senior levels of government, the private sector and other sources. Over the past five years, the SSMEDC received $7.98 million from the City and used this funding to secure more than $14 million from other sources.
  • Tourism Sault Ste. Marie prides itself on delivering top-notch marketing designed to attract visitors. The organization continues to be recognized far and wide for these efforts. Tourism Sault Ste. Marie's "Big Snow" promotional campaign centred around Searchmont Resort is a finalist for a 2015 Tourism Marketing Award from the Travel Industry Association of Ontario. The SSMEDC division is also a finalist for a 2015 Digital Marketing Award from the Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership Corporation (OTMPC). The winners will be announced at the 2015 Ontario Tourism Summit next month. Past marketing awards won by Tourism Sault Ste. Marie include: a 2012 OTMPC Award for Best Printed Collateral Material and 2011 Awards from the Economic Developers Council of Ontario for its Website and Convention & Sports Tourism Guide.
  • Last night, the SSMEDC hosted Bridges to Better Business 2015, an event that brings together current and aspiring entrepreneurs for an evening of learning and networking. This year's forum featured a presentation from local business owner Jeff Greco, an entrepreneur panel discussion, and a keynote speech from enterprise consultant Karen Bird. More than 100 people attended Bridges to Better Business 2015, which was sponsored by the Provincial Government, Business Development Bank of Canada, Community Development Corporation of Sault Ste. Marie & Area, and Startup Sault. To deliver the annual event, the SSMEDC receives operating funds from the Province of Ontario. In fact, the Provincial Government is where the SSMEDC gets most of its funding for the delivery of small business development services in the Sault area.

October 16, 2015

  • Individuals receiving Ontario Works are now eligible to obtain a micro-loan of up to $5,000 to help them start their own business. The goal of the program is to support citizens in transitioning from OW to self-employment. This initiative was developed by the District of Sault Ste. Marie Social Service Administration Board, in partnership with the SSMEDC. The Corporation is providing mentoring and general assistance to program participants, and will also assess business viability, assist with preparing business plans, and recommend funding based on business needs and feasibility. The micro-loan program is designed to generate business startups and create jobs while also helping to ease the burden on the community's social services agencies. For more information about the micro-loans program, OW recipients can contact their Case Manager.
  • Tourism Sault Ste. Marie works to attract visitors to the community using a number of methods. One way is by securing and supporting conferences and sports tournaments. Between 2008 and 2014, Tourism Sault Ste. Marie attracted 392 events, which generated 74,828 visitor days and $33.7 million in direct visitor spending. How is Tourism SSM able to attract so many events? One method is by attending marketplaces to meet with event organizers. Yesterday, a rep from the SSMEDC division attended the Travel Trade Canada expo, which brings together conference planners from the public, private and non-profit sectors. Several past events held in the Sault were a direct result of leads generated at the Travel Trade Canada expo. With a number of leads developed at this year's forum, more conference should be coming here in the future.
  • Finland's Ambassador to Canada, Charles Murto, was in Sault Ste. Marie this week to attend the ground-breaking ceremony for the new Finnish Rest Home. While here, he also met with a number of community groups, including the SSMEDC. The Ambassador is looking to generate business opportunities for Finnish companies, and the SSMEDC, along with Port of Algoma officials gave a detailed presentation on the competitive advantages available in the Sault. The community has a sizable Finnish population, which is part of the reason Tourism Sault Ste. Marie was able to help secure the 2010 Finn Grand Fest, an event that attracted several thousand visitors here. Simply put, the relationship between the Sault and Finland is solid, and the Ambassador's recent visit will help ensure the cultural and economic ties between the two remain strong.
  • The SSMEDC was represented at a reverse trade show this week hosted by the Honourable David Orazietti, Minister of Government Services. The event brought together business owners and public service providers, with the goal of helping to build relationships and familiarizing entrepreneurs with the government procurement process. While at the event, the SSMEDC met with a few dozen business owners from the Sault area and across the country, and a number of solid leads were developed. For instance, one attendee owns a fire suppression company in Quebec and is looking to expand into the Ontario marketplace. Attending these types of forums and meeting with current and aspiring entrepreneurs is a core component of the SSMEDC's outreach activity, which is designed to support area business owners and attract external firms.

October 9, 2015

  • The Port of Algoma project is moving forward at an impressive rate. In fact, it's ahead of schedule. On Wednesday, Anshumali Dwivedi, CEO of the Port of Algoma, provided an update during the annual general meeting of the local Chamber of Commerce. Launched last year with support from all levels of government, the first phase of the project included planning, design, environmental assessments and First Nations consultations. That work, which was originally scheduled to take much longer to finish, was completed earlier this year. As such, phase two is set to begin shortly. When fully operational, the Port of Algoma will provide significant economic and employment benefits by making it considerably cheaper to transport products to, from and through the Sault. With these advantages, the SSMEDC has been working with Port of Algoma officials since Day 1.
  • In the SSMEDC's efforts to help create and retain jobs while generating wealth in the community, John Febbraro, Director of Business Development, attended a Board meeting for Ontario's North Economic Development Corporation (ONEDC) last week. ONEDC is a group made up of economic development reps from the five major urban centres in Northern Ontario, including the SSMEDC. With funding from senior levels of government, the organization undertakes strategic initiatives that benefit each urban centre and the region as a whole. ONEDC previously unveiled a business and investment attraction initiative. The group is now rolling out a Phase 3 Northern Ontario Export Program to help firms export their products. For anyone looking to take advantage of the program, contact John Febbraro at 705-759-2546 or j.febbraro@ssmedc.ca.
  • Tourism Sault Ste. Marie is currently planning two major events for the community. From November 16 to 18, the city is hosting the 2015 Northern Ontario Tourism Summit. The forum is facilitated by Tourism Northern Ontario (TNO) and Nature and Outdoors Tourism Ontario (NOTO), with Tourism Sault Ste. Marie leading the steering committee. The summit brings together industry reps from across the region for education and networking opportunities. Organizers hope the event will attract 400 delegates, which would generate a direct economic impact of roughly $200,000. For registration and other information, visit http://northernontariotourismsummit.ca/. Tourism Sault Ste. Marie is also hosting its 2015 Awards on November 5. To order tickets, or for additional details, visit www.reservations.saulttourism.com/English/Tk_Select_Ticket_single.asp?SelTicket=Touri107.
  • The SSMEDC is seeking proposals from proponents to undertake renovation work to the groomer bay area at Searchmont Ski Resort. The Request For Proposal is available online at www.sault-canada.com. Submissions to the RFP are due October 21. The SSMEDC purchased the ski resort in December 2014. The acquisition, expected to be short term, was needed to ensure the attraction remained open. Since buying the resort, the SSMEDC and Searchmont Ski Association have undertaken a number of renovations to the site. The pending improvements to the groomer bay area follows a long list of enhancements in progress, including upgrades to the ski lifts and snow-making equipment. Made possible with investments from senior levels of government, these initiatives will help ensure the long-term sustainability of the ski resort.

October 2, 2015

  • Last week, officials from Ringette Canada travelled to the community to visit various sports and accommodations facilities. They also met with folks from Tourism Sault Ste. Marie, which is looking to make a bid on the 2018 National Ringette Championships. The annual event attracts around 1,000 participants - plus hundreds more parents and fans - and generates an economic impact of nearly $1 million in direct visitor spending for the host community. Sault Ste. Marie is competing for the hosting rights with four other cities across the country. While here, the Ringette Canada officials toured and evaluated local arenas, hotels and other facilities. A main activity of Tourism Sault Ste. Marie is to bid on and support major sports tournaments and conferences that draw visitors. Between 2010 and 2014, these events generated $17.5 million in direct visitor spending.
  • The Bow Lake Wind Farm north of the Sault is now operational. Capable of powering 15,000 homes, the initiative is a joint venture of the Batchewana First Nation and BluEarth Renewables. During the construction phase, 180 workers were employed on the project, and dozens of local suppliers - including steel for the wind towers from Essar Steel Algoma - were used. Given the economic benefits, the SSMEDC worked with the proponents on helping the project move forward. In 2014, BluEarth manager Bryan Tripp remarked: "The SSMEDC has been incredibly helpful. Its staff assisted us with public consultation and information sessions, and they helped connect us with people and organizations throughout the region. The SSMEDC has been very community-minded, and its support has been - and continues to be - greatly appreciated."
  • The SSMEDC is inviting the public to register for Bridges to Better Business. At the event, attendees will hear from business owners on the obstacles and opportunities they have faced. Featuring guest speakers and an entrepreneur panel, the forum is taking place October 22 at Grand Gardens (Downtown) from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. A complimentary meal will be served. There is no charge to attend, but participants must register and are asked to bring two non-perishable food items. Register for the event here. The SSMEDC receives funding from the Provincial Government to hold the annual event. This year's forum is also supported by the Business Development Bank of Canada, Community Development Corporation and Startup Sault.
  • A documentary film shot in the Sault area will be screened tonight at the Algoma Fall Festival. Painted Land: In Search of the Group of Seven features local adventurists Gary & Joanie McGuffin and art historian Michael Burtch, as they search for and find sites in the Algoma region made famous by the iconic Canadian artists. A number of agencies, including Tourism Sault Ste. Marie, Algoma Country and Tourism Northern Ontario, are working to capitalize on the Group of Seven by developing products around the artists and promoting the brand around the world. A number of tour offerings are now available and have proven especially popular with overseas travellers. The documentary, which was unveiled last week at the Vancouver International Film Festival, is expected to add to the admiration of the Group of Seven and their connection with the Sault area.