Weekly Activity Reports - September 2015

September 25, 2015

  • The SSMEDC works with businesses of all shapes and sizes. Much of the Corporation's work focuses on industrial firms, while other activity centres around small businesses and supporting young entrepreneurs. The totality of this activity generates significant results. Over the past five years, the SSMEDC assisted 167 businesses with their startup and expansion plans, which created or retained more than 1,600 jobs. This number is on the rise. With respect to small business endeavours, the SSMEDC recently worked with a couple entrepreneurs who were looking to open a restaurant in the north end of the city. The business is currently operating and, by all accounts, is doing quite well. Other businesses that the SSMEDC has worked with as of late include a construction company, graphic design firm and veterinary clinic.
  • Major renovations took place at Searchmont Resort this summer. The enhancements include, but are not limited to: upgrades to the ski lifts, improvements to the snow-making equipment, and overhauls to the main groomer. The SSMEDC purchased Searchmont Resort in December 2014. The acquisition, expected to be short term, was required to ensure the business remained open. By purchasing the attraction and giving it a new lease on life, the resort is able to take advantage of various funding programs from the Federal and Provincial Governments. The renovations that took place over the summer and continue to take place, which were required to help ensure its long-term sustainability, are made possible with investments from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation and FedNor - Industry Canada.
  • A feature movie is set to begin shooting in Sault Ste. Marie next week. Means Dreams will start filming here Monday, with the local portion of the production scheduled to last for eight days. The drama motion picture has five locations selected throughout the community. As film productions creates jobs and injects capital into the local economy, the SSMEDC provides logistical assistance to the visiting crews. Essentially, the Corporation's Business Development team helps the production guide through the Municipal approval process. Over the past several years, a wide variety of feature films have been shot here, including: Citizen Gangster, Swearnet, Irvine Welsh's Ecstasy, Collaborator, Breakout, Foxfire, Compulsion, Masked Saint, Midnight Sun, Remember, Story of Luke, If You See Her, Fall, and Coconut Hero.
  • Tourism Sault Ste. Marie is looking to hire a Manager of Sport Tourism and Special Events. As a main activity, the SSMEDC division works to attract major sports tournaments and other events to the community. Between 2012 and 2014, this activity generated $10.42 million in direct visitor spending and millions more in indirect economic activity. The Manager of Sport Tourism and Special Events is responsible for identifying opportunities and securing major events that draw visitors. The deadline to apply for the position is Wednesday, October 14. To view the job posting, or for additional information, please visit www.sault-canada.com/en/aboutus/ssmedcjobs.asp.

September 18, 2015

  • A decade ago, Flakeboard Co. was looking for a place to establish a wood products manufacturing plant. To help attract the firm, the SSMEDC worked with its public sector partners to secure funding to support the building of the facility. Being an independent, non-profit organization, the SSMEDC was able to itself obtain a $1.55-million loan from senior levels of government. A few years later, when Flakeboard looked to expand its Base Line plant, the SSMEDC secured an additional $914,000 loan from senior levels of government to support the project. This funding has helped the firm thrive, expand its product line to include value-added laminated panels, and add a number of high-level corporate positions. Arauco, which bought the facility in 2012, now employs 126 people. Why is this initiative mentioned in today's Weekly Activity Report? Because the loans obtained by the SSMEDC were recently paid by Arauco/Flakeboard in full, ahead of schedule.
  • This week, Tourism Sault Ste. Marie hosted a meeting for the Board of Directors of Attractions Ontario. The organization includes industry representatives from attractions across the province, including the Ontario Science Centre, CN Tower, Science North and the Niagara Parks Commission. Ian McMillan, Executive Director of Tourism Sault Ste. Marie, also sits on the Board of Attractions Ontario. The association is an industry advocate and works together to attract visitors to the province. By hosting the Attractions Ontario Board meeting in Sault Ste. Marie, the community and its tourism assets were promoted. As well, a dozen or so visitors were here for a few days, spending money in the city. Essentially, the meeting it was a win-win situation for the community, Tourism Sault Ste. Marie and its industry partners.
  • An interesting part of economic development is that, while delivering its core programs and services, along with special projects, the SSMEDC often receives unique inquiries or calls for help. For instance, this week, human resources personnel from a major local public sector organization contacted the SSMEDC to request assistance in attracting workers to Sault Ste. Marie. Here's some background: when a prospective doctor comes here to see and assess the community, the SSMEDC provides city tours and other information to help attract the medical professional. Folks at the public agency knew this and wanted to pick the SSMEDC's collective brain on some of the best practices of this process. When job creation and investment attraction are involved, the SSMEDC is available to lend a helping hand. This is one of many prime examples.
  • Sault Ste. Marie is a warm and welcoming community that embraces visitors from every corner of the world. To help recognize individuals and groups responsible for bolstering the city's hospitable reputation, Tourism Sault Ste. Marie is now calling for nominations for its 2015 awards. The nomination forms for the 13th annual Tourism Sault Ste. Marie Awards are available online at www.saulttourism.com. The deadline to nominate an individual or organization is Tuesday, October 6. This year's awards include the Tourism Award of Excellence, Business of the Year Award, Customer Service Award, Tourism Ambassador Award, and the Tourism Sault Ste. Marie Student Hospitality Management Award ($500 Scholarship).

September 11, 2015

  • The bad news: the community was not selected to host the 2017 Tim Hortons Brier. The good news: Sault Ste. Marie's bid was so compelling, Curling Canada is strongly encouraging the city to bid on future Brier events. Earlier this year, a bid was submitted by a committee consisting of Tourism Sault Ste. Marie, the City of Sault Ste. Marie, Soo Curlers Association and Tarentorus Sports Club. The local bid was one of three known proposals from across Canada. To help bolster the Sault's bid, a website, www.ssmbrier2017.com, was developed by the SSMEDC, and individuals were asked to make $50 deposits on tickets. The response was nothing short of sensational. With the local bid unsuccessful, deposits will be refunded. And with extremely positive feedback from Curling Canada, the Sault bid committee is already discussing a future Brier bid.
  • Economic development is sort of like an iceberg. Only a small portion is visible, while most takes place below the surface. As an example, the SSMEDC's Weekly Activity Report, which you are currently reading, highlights some of the Corporation's work that takes place in the public eye. But make no mistake, a majority of SSMEDC activity happens behind the scenes. Case in point: each year, the Corporation works with a number of businesses and entrepreneurs to start and grow companies, and attract firms and investment to the community. The SSMEDC is now working on more than 100 active client files. When these leads materialize, the organization will continue to report the progress through its corporate communications channels. So is the nature of economic development.
  • Last week, the Ontario Trillium Foundation announced a $60,000 investment to support the Group of Seven tourism initiative currently underway in the Sault area. The funds will provide training for organizations and tourism operators across the Algoma District by creating education modules that highlight the renowned Canadian artists and their connection to the region. The training will help develop tour packages, which will attract visitors from around the world. Tourism Sault Ste. Marie was part of the collaborative group that developed and submitted the funding application to the Provincial Government. For the past several years, the SSMEDC division has been managing the Group of Seven initiative, which has seen considerable success, with a number of other organizations, including Algoma Country and Tourism Northern Ontario.
  • Wednesday was the deadline for third parties to submit bids to operate the Algoma Central Railway passenger service. Three rail-related companies from Canada and the United States tendered proposals. Led by the SSMEDC, the ACR Passenger Service Stakeholders Working Group is now assessing the bids, with assistance from BDO Canada, in partnership with CN, which owns the rail line. The evaluation and due diligence process is expected to take several weeks. Currently chaired by SSMEDC CEO Tom Dodds, the Working Group also includes representatives from Tourism Sault Ste. Marie, Wawa, Hearst, Dubreuilville, First Nations, Algoma Kinniwabi Travel Association, Coalition for Algoma Passenger Trains, and home and cottage owners serviced by the ACR line.

September 4, 2015

  • A local solar panel manufacturer is in the process of hiring multiple workers. To help fill the positions, Heliene Canada held a job fair this week at the Sault Community Career Centre. The solar power generation industry in North America is growing, and Heliene Canada intends to be a strong player in the sector by developing a fully-automated facility to manufacture high-quality, photovoltaic modules. To help in this process, the company is looking to hire multiple Production Line Workers. Before opening its facility in 2010, Heliene Canada first utilized the business support services of the SSMEDC. The Corporation assisted the company in accessing a significant investment from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation. Supporting local entrepreneurs in starting or growing a business in a main activity of the SSMEDC.
  • Tourism Sault Ste. Marie hosted a familiarization (FAM) tour this week for a visiting travel reporter from Huffington Post. While here, the writer visited a number of area attractions, including the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre, Ermatinger-Cleargue National Historic Site, the Sault Ste. Marie Canal and Hiawtha Highlands. Every year, Tourism Sault Ste. Marie, a division of the SSMEDC hosts or facilitates a number of FAM tours from visiting media personnel. The goal is to show these folks the area and have them promote it through their channels and networks. Ultimately, this activity generates significant tourism marketing for the Sault Ste. Marie, which helps attract visitors from around the world. This week's FAM tour with Huffington Post was supported by the Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership Corporation.
  • Last weekend, a member of the SSMEDC team provided a detailed community tour to a visiting doctor who's looking for a place to practice medicine. To help attract investment and wealth to the community, while also increasing the quality of life for citizens, the Corporation is actively involved in Sault Ste. Marie's physician recruitment efforts. The SSMEDC is a longtime partner of the local Physician Recruitment and Retention Committee. When a prospective doctor visits the city, the SSMEDC provides area tours and other information to promote the many benefits that make Sault Ste. Marie a great place to live and work. The goal is to help attract medical professionals. Over the past few months, three such community tours were provided to visiting medical specialists and other doctors.
  • The SSMEDC released another edition of its bi-monthly newsletter, The Pulse, this week. The publication is sent digitally to approximately 1,500 recipients locally and around the world. It contains short stories on SSMEDC activity, its programs and the competitive business advantages in Sault Ste. Marie. The goal of The Pulse is to keep citizens and partner organizations informed of SSMEDC activity while also promoting the business and tourism development services offered by the Corporation. The bi-newsletter is one of many communications methods used by the SSMEDC. Ultimately, the goal of Corporate communications is to demonstrate accountability for the investments made in the SSMEDC while supporting the organization's goal of creating and retaining jobs, generating wealth and increasing the Municipal tax base.