Weekly Activity Reports - September 2016

September 30, 2016

  • While working to attract new investment to the Sault, another core activity of the SSMEDC is assisting local entrepreneurs in starting and growing small businesses. So far this year, there have been a number of successes, with 33 small business startups and expansions. This figure includes eight incubator clients currently operating out of - or in the process of moving into - the SSMEDC's Millworks Centre for Entrepreneurship. The figure also includes seven young entrepreneurs who opened businesses in 2016 under the SSMEDC-administered Starter Company program, which provides training and potential access to funding for non-students between the ages of 18 and 29. The figure also includes the 18 students who enrolled in the SSMEDC-administered Summer Company program, which provides mentoring and grants to start a seasonal business.
  • Tom Dodds, CEO of the SSMEDC, promoted the community this week on the global stage. He took part in a panel discussion on developing partnerships at the International Economic Development Council annual conference. Tom focused on the importance of building relationships between cities as a means to advance economic and business development. During his presentation, he highlighted a number of regional successes as examples, including Ontario's North Economic Development Corporation, a partnership between the five major cities in Northern Ontario. Tom also cited the sister city agreement between the Twin Saults, along with the economic development collaboration that resulted from it. Signed in 2012, the agreement is designed to promote economic, educational and cultural exchanges, and other ventures.
  • With record-setting cruise ship visits and a banner season for attractions like the Agawa Canyon Tour Train, 2016 is shaping up to be one of the best years in recent history for the local tourism sector. To recognize the individuals and groups responsible for this feat, Tourism Sault Ste. Marie is calling for nominations for its 14th annual awards. Nomination forms for the 2016 Tourism Sault Ste. Marie Awards are available at www.saulttourism.com/Userfiles/TSSM%20TourismAwards%20NominationForm.pdf. The deadline to nominate an individual or organization is Wednesday, October 19. This year's awards include the Tourism Award of Excellence, Business of the Year Award, Customer Service Award, Tourism Ambassador Award, and Sault College Culinary Management Program Award ($500 Scholarship).
  • On Thursday, the SSMEDC took part in a Labour Market Symposium from the Algoma Workforce Investment Corporation. The forum featured keynote speeches from economist and author Linda Nazareth, along with labour market consultant and Metcalf Fellow Tom Zizys. Involving representatives from local economic development and education organizations, the symposium was designed to provide an overview of the region's labour market and highlight the trends - both local and global - that will have an impact on Sault Ste. Marie and the Algoma District in the coming years. The SSMEDC routinely takes part in these types of community information forums. Algoma Workforce Investment Corporation and the SSMEDC are longtime partners and routinely work together on joint projects and initiatives.

September 23, 2016

  • Purus Fuel Technologies, an SSMEDC client, held a product demonstration today in front of the Millworks Centre for Entrepreneurship. The company has a patent-pending machine, the IC-2, that delivers its proprietary cleaners to improve the ability for auto dealerships and repair facilities to maintain gasoline direct injection engines. Representatives from local dealerships and the Chamber of Commerce attended today's demonstration, which was coordinated by the SSMEDC. Purus Fuel Technologies was launched in 2013 by Scott Irwin, a local entrepreneur now located in Illinois. He's currently working with the SSMEDC on establishing an assembly operation in Sault Ste. Marie. In the meantime, the company has an office set up at the SSMEDC's Millworks Centre for Entrepreneurship in the Machine Shop.
  • To further build the level of sports expertise in the community, Tourism Sault Ste. Marie is partnering with the Coaches Association of Ontario to facilitate a prominent coaching clinic this fall. From October 21 to 23 at various local venues, the Coaches Association of Ontario's National Coaching Certification Program Super Clinic will offer three days of training, education and networking for the first time in Northern Ontario. This is a great opportunity for local and area residents. Traditionally, these Super Clinics have only been held in southern Ontario. To register, see the full list of courses or for additional details, visit www.coachesontario.ca/superclinic. The Coaches Association of Ontario is an independent, non-profit, coach-led organization that strengthens development opportunities and provides educational resources for coaches.
  • Tom Dodds, Chief Executive Officer of the SSMEDC, delivered a keynote speech this week to members of the Rotary Club of Sault Ste. Marie. The presentation focused on the state of the local economy, including employment and GDP data, opportunities, and challenges. The speech also touched upon some of the major initiatives the SSMEDC is involved with, such as the redevelopment of the Port of Algoma and the Community Adjustment Committee that's working on a comprehensive plan to advance the city in the wake of setbacks with major local companies. This type of keynote speech falls under the SSMEDC's outreach activity. Every year, members of the Corporation's staff team conduct many of these presentations to various groups throughout the community.
  • Registration for Bridges to Better Business 2016 is now open. Taking place October 19 at the Machine Shop, the annual event brings together area professionals for an evening of learning and networking. This year's forum will feature a keynote presentation from Sean Wise, a former advisor for the CBC reality television show Dragons' Den. The networking and tradeshow portion of the forum is taking place at 5 p.m., with dinner scheduled to follow at 6 p.m. The cost to attend is $10. To register, visit www.eventbrite.ca/e/bridges-to-better-business-tickets-27727608022. Bridges to Better Business is run by the SSMEDC. This year's partners are the Millworks Centre for Entrepreneurship, Business Development Bank of Canada, Province of Ontario, Chamber of Commerce, Startup Sault, Innovation Centre and Community Development Corporation.

September 16, 2016

  • This summer proved to be the best ever for cruise ships in the Sault. These luxury vessels made a total of 20 stops here and brought nearly 4,000 visitors. Since they're only on land for a few hours, the passengers tend to visit downtown businesses and attractions like the bushplane museum and art gallery. On a related note, the Municipality received word last week from Transport Canada that the Roberta Bondar Marina is now fully certified to handle cruise ships. It was previously certified only as an occasional-use marina with a limited number of allowable visits. Why has the Sault been a hotbed of activity for cruise ships as of late? Part of the reason is that Ian McMillan, Executive Director of Tourism Sault Ste. Marie, is former Chair of Cruise Ontario and a current member of the Great Lakes Cruising Coalition. The groups work to attract luxury vessels to the region.
  • The Millworks Centre for Entrepreneurship is pleased to welcome a new business client. Possibilities Group is a consulting firm focused on business development, community economic development and project finance, with a specialty in working with indigenous and northern communities and the facilitation of partnerships between private enterprise and indigenous communities. The company recently moved into the facility. Located in the Machine Shop, the Millworks Centre for Entrepreneurship is operated by the SSMEDC. The site houses the organization's enterprise services staff and programs, along with a small business incubator. Earlier this year, a number of firms began moving into the facility, including Purus Fuels, MBR Services of Canada, Swamp Woods Unlimited, Northstar Consulting and Dizzytree Inc.
  • Tourism Sault Ste. Marie now has another attraction to help draw visitors to the community. With private sector tourism industry funding, the organization purchased a railway car last week. The coach was recently used in the TVO film Pained Land: In Search of the Group of Seven. The boxcar is a near-exact replica of the coach used by the iconic Canadian artists when they visited the Sault Ste. Marie area nearly 100 years ago. It's now stationed at the Machine Shop property on the former St. Marys Paper site. "The Group of Seven railcar will augment the tourism experience we already have established around the famed Canadian painters," said Ian McMillan, Executive Director of Tourism Sault Ste. Marie. "Our goal is to continue to attract visitors by further building the Group of Seven brand in our community."
  • In economic development, you need solid data to plan your next moves. For example, what business sectors - with the most potential for growth - present the best opportunities for the Sault? To answer this, the SSMEDC issued a request for proposal last week for professional services to perform a sector-based assessment and develop a sector strategy. One of the goals is to identify and analyze key sectors with the greatest prospect of attracting investment, increasing the export of local goods and services, and building on existing expertise and competitive strengths. View the RFP at www.sault-canada.com/en/aboutus/resources/RFPSectorAnalysis-InvestSSMSeptember72016.pdf.  This project is a part of Invest Sault Ste. Marie, a three-year SSMEDC initiative funded by all levels of government to enhance the community's economic development capacity and performance in key sectors.

September 9, 2016

  • In light of the general economic uncertainty in Sault Ste. Marie, the Municipality established the Community Adjustment Committee. The independent, non-political group will be working to create a comprehensive plan to advance the city in the wake of setbacks with major local companies, most notably Essar Steel Algoma filing for protection under the Companies Creditors Arrangement Act. The Community Adjustment Committee held its inaugural meeting on Wednesday. At the meeting, SSMEDC CEO Tom Dodds, who serves the group as a resource member, presented on the state of the local economy and labour market. The Community Adjustment Committee is made up of representatives from a number of local organizations, including SSMEDC President and Board Chair Robert Reid.
  • The SSMEDC corporate Facebook page is now live. Join the conversation by visiting and liking the site at https://www.facebook.com/SaultEDC. The page was established a few weeks ago, which gave the SSMEDC an opportunity to populate it with content as time went on before going public. Social media is one of many corporate communications methods used by the organization. Others include routine press releases, bimonthly newsletters, weekly activity reports, regular presentations to City Council and other audiences, annual reports, Shaw TV and other video segments, and public open houses. The goal of this activity is to keep partners and the public aware of SSMEDC activity, promote the Corporation's programs and services, and market the area's competitive business advantages.
  • As a core activity, the SSMEDC works to assist local companies and entrepreneurs in their startup and growth plans. One way it does this is by hosting training events catered to various business needs. For example, the SSMEDC is helping to facilitate an educational session on productivity enhancement on Tuesday, September 13 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. The event is being offered by Excellence in Manufacturing Consortium. There is no cost to attend. The session is for area industrial firms and related stakeholders and is focused on building greater success through a productivity cluster network initiative and business management practices. To register, or for additional information, please visit http://www.sault-canada.com//uploads/doc_636089250012008977.pdf.
  • Tourism Sault Ste. Marie is pleased to welcome a new member to its staff team. Megan Parlowe joined the organization as Events Coordinator earlier this week. Made possible with funding from private tourism industry partners, the position is responsible for developing new events and supporting existing events in the Sault Ste. Marie area. Ultimately, the goal is to increase visitor levels and boost visitor spending in the community. Megan has a wealth of relevant experience to draw from. She's the former Events Coordinator for the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce and, prior to that, spent more than three years with Tenaris Canada in a number of roles, including Community Relations and Social Development Coordinator. Megan holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication from Lake Superior State University.

September 2, 2016

  • SSMEDC client Aron Coccimiglio started a business earlier this summer. Secret Sip Coffee Club, an e-commerce company, offers a monthly online coffee subscription service. The firm provides exclusive and fresh micro-roasted coffee beans with simple signup and fast delivery. Secret Sip Coffee Club was profiled in a CTV news segment this week. The story is available for viewing online at http://northernontario.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=939962. Secret Sip Coffee Club is one of 18 area businesses started this year under Summer Company, a young entrepreneur program administered in the region by the SSMEDC. Funded by the Province of Ontario, Summer Company provides grants and mentoring to assist students between the ages of 15 and 29 in starting a seasonal business.
  • Each year, Tourism Sault Ste. Marie hosts a variety of travel writers and other media personnel who cover area attractions, scenery and additional visitor-related topics. The goal of this activity is to promote the community to tourists around the world. As one recent example, Tourism Sault Ste. Marie recently hosted travel writer Benoit Legault, who wrote a detailed Francophone article on the Sault area for Nord de l'Ontario. The feature can be viewed at www.norddelontario.ca/ou-aller/la-r-gion-d-algoma-en-vr. Hosting familiarization tours like this is a key component of Tourism Sault Ste. Marie's marketing efforts. In 2015, the organization facilitated 10 of these tours for visiting travel writers, wildlife photographers, television shows and other media personnel. This activity led to nearly $500,000 in unpaid marketing for the community.
  • Starter Company, another young entrepreneur program administered by the SSMEDC, is beginning its September intake in the near future. This program is available to new start-ups, existing businesses looking to expand and people wanting to purchase a business. Starter Company provides training and mentoring services, with the opportunity for grant funding to businesses that qualify. Training for the next intake is taking place September 20, 22, 27 and 29 from 1 p.m. to 4 .p.m. To register, visit www.themillworks.ca/#!starter-company/crtl. Eligible clients who complete the training component may be eligible for grant dollars of up to $5,000. Starter Company, like the Summer Company program, is funded by the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Growth.
  • The SSMEDC released the August edition of its newsletter, The Pulse, on Wednesday. The bimonthly publication contains economic development stories on Sault Ste. Marie and is meant to keep the public, partners and clients aware of SSMEDC activity, programs and services, and results generated for the community. The Pulse is archived and available online at: www.sault-canada.com/en/aboutus/newsletter.asp. Meanwhile, the SSMEDC uses a number of corporate communications methods to reach a wide audience. For example, for well over two years, the Corporation has also been publishing a Weekly Activity Report, which contains details on some of the SSMEDC's more day-to-day functions. This Weekly Activity Report archive is also available online at: www.sault-canada.com/en/aboutus/Weekly_Activity.asp.