Weekly Activity Reports - September 2014

September 26, 2014

  • A local marketing business is expanding thanks to Starter Company. This week, CC Communications received a $5,000 investment from the program, which provides mentoring and access to start-up/expansion funding for young entrepreneurs between the ages of 19 and 29 who are not returning to school. Owner Connie Carello offers social media management services, website content writing, promotional photography and other services. Her business is now expanding to include photography services to help athletes compose scholarship applications. Funded by the Province of Ontario, Starter Company is administered in the region by the SSMEDC. Three other area companies have received start-up and expansion investments under the program: Cavera Inc., Knight Legal Solutions, and Jax&Hail SugarBrig.
  • The Sault Ste. Marie region will be featured on an Emmy award-winning U.S. television program next summer. A production crew from Travelscope, a long-running travel show on the Public Broadcast Service (PBS), is filming in the area this week. The program is developing a six-part series that focuses on Ontario. The local segment will feature the Agawa Canyon Train Tour and other attractions. The Sault area episode, along with the entire province-wide series, was coordinated by the SSMEDC's Tourism Sault Ste. Marie division‎, in partnership with Tourism Northern Ontario. The episodes will air in June 2015 to millions of viewers across North America, thereby providing untold promotional benefits for Sault Ste. Marie.
  • Sault Ste. Marie is hosting the Northern Ontario Business Awards (NOBA) this week. The two-day event featured a Northern Credit Union Reception at the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre on September 24, followed by an SSMEDC-hosted networking event and NOBA awards gala at Comfort Suites the next evening. The NOBA Awards recognize creative businesses and entrepreneurs from across Northern Ontario.  Held in a different regional community each year, the 2014 event was coordinated by Northern Ontario Business, in partnership with the SSMEDC and City of Sault Ste. Marie, with the support of a number of local and regional sponsors.
  • The SSMEDC's Tourism Sault Ste. Marie division is seeking nominations for its 2014 Awards. Each year, the division hosts an awards night to recognize individuals and groups in the industry that go above and beyond the call of duty. The five awards are: Tourism Award of Excellence, Business of the Year Award, Customer Service Award, Tourism Ambassador Award, and Tourism Sault Ste. Marie Student Hospitality Management Award ($500 Scholarship). The nomination deadline for the 2014 Tourism Sault Ste. Marie Awards is Thursday, October 9. Nomination forms are available online here.

September 19, 2014

  • The first ever Muddy Moose Charge took place in the Sault area on Saturday. Held at Searchmont Resort, the event featured a 5-kilimetre race up and down the mountain, with as number of obstacles included. Around 350 people participated in the challenge in both the adult and kids competitions. The Muddy Moose Charge was a fundraiser for the district's Canadian Cancer Society, particularly for childhood cancer research. A total of $64,000 was raised at the inaugural race. As the competition attracted many out of town visitors, particularly from the Sudbury/North Shore and Wawa areas, staff from the SSMEDC's Tourism Sault Ste. Marie division sat on the steering committee and helped plan and facilitate the event. With the success of the first race, organizers hope to make the Muddy Moose Charge an annual event.
  • Last week, a member of the SSMEDC business development team attended the North American Mining Expo (NAME) in Sudbury. Designed to foster partnership, learning and networking opportunities within the industry, the annual event attracts hundreds of delegates from mining and mining supply companies located around the world. The goal of the SSMEDC representation at the forum was to promote the capacity of Sault Ste. Marie businesses that can provide goods/services for regional mining operations and to foster relationships with mining companies that might be interested in reactivating any of the several past-producing mines in the Algoma District.
  • Dan Hollingsworth, the SSMEDC's Director of Strategic Initiatives, was recently elected to the Board of Directors for the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce. Celebrating its 125th anniversary this year, the local Chamber represents the interests of more than 700 member businesses and agencies. The SSMEDC, which works to grow local companies and attract external firms, is a longtime community partner of the Chamber. The two organizations have worked together on a number of joint initiatives over the years, including the production of the annual Business Directory and planning the 2014 Ontario Chamber of Commerce annual general meeting earlier this year. Having Dan Hollingsworth on the Chamber Board will ensure such joint initiatives continue in the future.
  • The Municipal election is just around the corner. Last Friday was the deadline for nominations, and citizens head to the pools on Monday, October 27. Over the past several weeks, the SSMEDC has been sending letters to each candidate welcoming them to the race, introducing them to the Corporation, and briefly explaining what the organization does and what kind of impact it has on the community. Candidate introduction letters are one of many communication methods used by the SSMEDC. The goal of corporate communications is to keep citizens and partners informed of the organization's activity, along with its programs and services.

September 12, 2014

  • The Rogers Hometown Hockey Tour is making a stop in Sault Ste. Marie on March 1, 2015. The circuit, which is touring across the country this upcoming NHL season, features popular commentator Ron MacLean hosting weekly live pre-game shows from Canadian cities, followed by a viewing party of the Sunday night games. The festivities are broadcast live on Rogers Sportsnet. The Sault Ste. Marie tour stop will coincide with the game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Washington Capitals. The opportunity to be a part of the 25-city tour was generated by the SSMEDC's Tourism Sault Ste. Marie division, in partnership with City staff, who met with officials from Rogers earlier this year. The Rogers Hometown Hockey Tour will attract visitors to the Sault, which will inject capital into the local economy, and also promote the community across the country. For more information, visit www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/nhl/rogers-hometown-hockey-to-tour-25-communities/.
  • Earlier this week, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) announced that it has issued Request for Proposal (RFP) documents to candidates it has determined are pre-qualified to bid to take over the operation of its lottery business. Essentially, the Crown Corporation is one step closer to finding an agency to operate the Provincial lottery. The announcement was welcomed by local officials, including the SSMEDC and City of Sault Ste. Marie, who have been working with the OLG team since March 2012 to help the community prepare for the OLG's modernization plans. The SSMEDC and other local agencies are working to attract private sector organizations that may be running part of the Province's lottery and gaming operations in the future.
  • At the City Council meeting on Monday night, Councillors approved a $100,000 Economic Development Fund (EDF) application from the SSMEDC for an investment attraction and marketing initiative. Invest Sault Ste. Marie is a three-year project that aims to increase opportunities for local businesses while attracting external businesses to the community. Based on similar initiatives in past years, it's estimated that this project will create or retain an average 150-200 jobs per year, lead to around $100 million in public and private capital investments, and increase tax revenue to the City of Sault Ste. Marie. It's also expected that the Municipal EDF funding will be levered to secure matching dollars from senior levels of government.
  • The SSMEDC's Twitter page, @SaultEDC, reached a milestone recently. Last week, the site attracted its 600th follower. Starting in 2013 as a pilot program, the @SaultEDC Twitter account has grown to become one of the Corporation's main communications methods. With daily activity and frequent two-way interactions with members of the public, the page is meant to keep citizens informed of SSMEDC endeavours while also promoting the organization's programs and services. With other activity, including - but not limited to - newsletters, Shaw TV video segments, press releases, annual reports and website updates, SSMEDC communications helps answer the question: What does the Corporation do, and what can it do to help me?

September 5, 2014

  • The SSMEDC wants to hear from rail companies and other parties that are interested in operating the Algoma Central Railway passenger service between Sault Ste. Marie and Hearst. A request for Expressions of Interest (EOI) was released earlier this week. The purpose of this non-binding invitation is to prequalify companies to participate in an upcoming Request for Proposal (RFP) process that will identify one or more entities to be retained to operate the ACR passenger rail service. The SSMEDC, on behalf of the ACR Passenger Service Working Group, issued the EOI with the endorsement of CN Rail, which owns Algoma Central Railway Inc. The EOI is available for viewing online at www.algomapassengerrail.com. The SSMEDC, along with other individuals and organizations, including the City of Sault Ste. Marie, are working to save the ACR passenger line, whose future is uncertain after Transport Canada announced that it is cutting its annual funding for the service.
  • Last week, BluEarth Renewables began shooting a documentary/marketing video on Sault Ste. Marie's growing green energy sector. The Calgary-based company, in partnership with the Batchewana First Nation, recently began construction of the Bow Lake Wind Farm near Sault Ste. Marie. The documentary, which is being filmed by MEDIAPOP Video Production, will feature interviews with Municipal leaders, members of the SSMEDC team and others. While shooting the video in the Sault, SSMEDC staff, who have been working with BluEarth Renewables for several years now, assisted with production matters. Meanwhile, the 36-turbine Bow Lake Wind Farm will employ more than 80 people during the peak of construction and, once in operation, will employ permanent workers in management, maintenance and administrative roles.
  • With a staff member preparing to be on-leave for the next year, the SSMEDC is looking to temporarily fill the position of Coordinator, Meetings & Conventions for its Tourism Sault Ste. Marie division. This role is responsible for attracting events to the community which, in turn, attract visitors who inject money into the local economy. As an example, this fall, the city is hosting the Northern Ontario Eletta Convention in September and an Energy Opportunities Conference in November. These meetings and conventions, and many others like them, were bid on and/or supported by Tourism Sault Ste. Marie. Such events provide a significant economic benefit to the community. For instance, between 2008 and 2013, Tourism Sault Ste. Marie successfully bid on or supported 369 meetings, conventions and sports tournaments, which attracted 60,962 delegates and injected $31.6 million of direct spending into the local economy.
  • Yesterday, the SSMEDC's Board of Directors met for its September meeting. Made up of representatives from the Sault's public, private and non-profit sectors, the volunteer Board provides strategic direction to the Corporation, which is then carried out by the staff team. Among its many roles in support of the day-to-day activities of the SSMEDC, the organization's Corporate Services division provides administrative assistance for the Board of Directors, such as preparing and coordinating material for meeting agendas, distributing meeting packages, providing advice and resources regarding Board governance, recording meeting activity, maintaining the Board's operational calendar and policies, and being the custodian of records to ensure accurate and sufficient documentation including bylaws is maintained to meet legal requirements.