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It's exciting stuff: Dan Hollingsworth

Sunday, January 26, 2014   by: Darren Taylor

As a newcomer to the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation (SSMEDC), Strategic Initiatives Director Dan Hollingsworth (pictured, at far right, with SSMEDC CEO Tom Dodds and Director of Industrial Marketing John Febbraro) recently told SooToday.com: “At any given time I have 25 projects on the go…it’s all exciting stuff.”

Gone, of course, are the days when a mill, a mine or a factory will set up shop in a community and hire hundreds of people.

Dealing with that reality and diversifying Sault Ste. Marie’s economy in many different ways has been, and remains, the SSMEDC’s mission.

While the fortunes of traditional, large industrial employers in Sault Ste. Marie (such as Essar Steel Algoma and Tenaris Tubes) remain a priority, and while the SSMEDC aggressively promotes Sault Ste. Marie and its existing lottery and gaming facilities and expertise as a natural fit for private sector partners to work with as OLG undergoes its modernization process, Dodds and his team spoke to SooToday.com about some of the SSMEDC’s other activities.

There’s money to be made for Sault Ste. Marie companies in the defence sector, for example.

In January 2013, under Canada’s Industrial and Regional Benefits (IRB) policy, China Steel received a $1 million contract with a defence contractor.

The SSMEDC’s latest newsletter points out that over the next decade, the federal government is expected to spend approximately $30 billion on national defence.

Through the IRB, Northern Ontario firms can take advantage of this opportunity and manufacture hardware and software components to sell to defence contractors.

Several local firms now have, or are in the process of obtaining, their “Controlled Goods” status, which is needed to sell to defence contractors.

Those firms, SSMEDC CEO Tom Dodds told us, include China Steel, Essar Steel Algoma, Rector Machine Works, North Shore Industrial Wheel, Soo Foundry and N-Sci Technologies.

With the SSMEDC’s help, Dodds said: “We’ve got local companies that have clicked on to this, and what we’ve been doing is bringing in these defence contractors for tours of local companies and they’ve said what they’ve seen is pretty impressive.”

Work that has been generated through these contracts will help retain and in some cases increase, on a contract-by-contract basis, additional jobs for Sault firms, Dodds said.

Hollingsworth said: “Essar Steel Algoma makes marine plate for shipbuilding in general, and the Canadian Navy is included in that.”

“This is another opportunity for local companies to sell their wares, and these are long –term relationships with defense contractors to last 10 to 15 years,” Hollingsworth said.

Other local economic development is centred on assisting small to medium sized Sault businesses grow.

With that in mind, the SSMEDC is also in the process of creating a job incubator for the Sault’s downtown.

Hollingsworth said: “We’ve put a plan together, working with the City, NOHFC and FedNor, to look at filling existing available space in the downtown core.”

Dodds added: “We’ve already got that information technology business incubator in the Innovation Centre, and what we’re trying to do in the downtown is open space for information technology businesses, not-for profits which address social issues, and home-based businesses which want to go to that next level with a storefront location.”

“We’ll mentor those businesses to the point where after their third year, they’re ready to go it alone, and we want to see a range of goods and services in the downtown core.”

In addition, Tourism Sault Ste. Marie, a division of the SSMEDC under the leadership of its Executive Director Ian  McMillan, has also performed admirably by bringing tourism dollars to the community, not only through the refurbishment of the Agawa Canyon Tour Train, but also through aggressive marketing of the Sault as an ideal place to hold conventions and sports events.

With the 2014 Ontario Scotties Tournament (held at Soo Curlers earlier this month) already in the books as a sports tourism success, McMillan told us the CCAA National Curling Championships will be held in Sault Ste. Marie March 18 to 22, followed by the U12 Provincial Ringette Championships April 3 to 6, the Atom AA OHF Championships April 11 to 13, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce Annual General Meeting May 1 to 4, the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities (FONOM) Annual Conference and General Meeting in early May, and the Air Force Association convention in October.

McMillan told us: “These conventions and sport tournaments will generate an estimated 10,500 visitor days in 2014 and bring in approximately $2 million in direct visitor spending…that’s a 20 percent increase in visitor days over 2013.”

An online reservation system for individuals and groups, operated by Tourism SSM, is an enormous benefit, McMillan said.

“We really promote Sault Ste. Marie as an ideal place to hold conventions because the area offers a mix of urban and rural, outdoor activities visitors can enjoy all in one day.”

“We’re also more accessible as a convention site through flights from Porter Airlines and Air Canada, and enthusiastic and dedicated volunteers at these events impress visitors,” McMillan said.

Dodds said: “You can do it in a smaller venue with a more community-minded organization and feel to it…if you go to a larger centre, it’s ‘get in line, you’re just a number.’”

“Word of our approach gets out, and attracts other groups and organizations to hold their conventions or sports events here.”

McMillan said his team is now working on promoting the area just north of the Sault as a tourist destination through its artistic/historic distinction as “Group of Seven Country.”

Dodds said: “Group of Seven country is a national icon in our own backyard…there are people across Canada, wealthy people, who are curious about the art they own, and wish to travel to the very spot where some of the Group did their work.”

 

Comments
13
Note: Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of SooToday.com. If you see an abusive post, please click the link beside the post to report it.
Nimrod 1/26/2014 1:48:02 PM Report

Our tax dollars at work.
flyhawk25 1/26/2014 2:25:09 PM Report

And put to good use.
lodgekeepers 1/26/2014 2:48:56 PM Report

Great work always coming from our Economic Development Corp. Best wishes on your new duties Dan.
I think the rest of Canada is quickly learning that the Soo is the place to host a large national sporting event. Carha, Telus Cup, Scotties are all testament to that. We fill the barn.
Retreaded 1/26/2014 3:13:01 PM Report

Lets hope the money invested and the time taken someday pays off. It is tough to get new business this far north. Sudbury seems to be the northern extent in a lot of investors minds.
fatafr 1/26/2014 3:17:20 PM Report

As a taxpayer and resident of this fine City, I am quite optimistic that 2014 will bring with it some positive news, particularly on the economic front. I have great expectations from the Economic Development Corp. and would most definitely expect some of these "irons in the fire" to take hold and be brought into fruition, in 2014, to City Council and the City.
I have always been a believer that more good things will happen if everyone is involved and pulling in the same direction. This, I strongly feel should include everyone from staff making 6 figure incomes to able bodied people lingering on the welfare roll, indefinitely. There's opportunity out there, they just have to decide to reach out and go for it.
I have to include retired teachers also moving on and actually retiring and leaving more spaces for energetic young teachers who are trying to remain home and moving forward in their teaching careers. Please don't continue to be a blockade but why not try being a door to opportunity for these young people.
Yes, I think there is good reason to remain optimistic in 2014 but at the same time, staff, City Council and the general public must continue to own up to their responsibilities. Each and everyone of us has to be accountable for our actions and in-actions because, quite frankly, the taxpayer can not continue to pay even more for municipal services and not see satisfactory results.
Again, I am looking forward to seeing what the EDC has in store for us; what transpires with the OLG and generally what's in store for Sault Ste. Marie on the economic front.
Retreaded 1/26/2014 4:30:14 PM Report

Fata...always gotta get that teacher thingy in eh I think we all know your position on that by now LMAO
Jimssm 1/26/2014 5:01:58 PM Report

Mr. Fata...

Why single out teachers ?

There are many others (steelworkers, gov't workers)that go back on contract after retirement..

Maybe if taxes and the cost of living weren't going up so fast everyone could afford to completely retire.

soowat 1/26/2014 6:10:31 PM Report

Besides Mr Dodds,Mr Febarro and Mr. Hollingsworth how many ordinary people have got jobs?

Let's see one has been sucking up fpr years, one has already made his nickel and the other is a Hollingsworth.

Wow! Is there anything left for ordinary folk?

ToO bad the media In SSM is not able/willing to do more than print press releases
soowat 1/26/2014 8:39:03 PM Report

fatafr

Time to stop trying to get even for the bad report card you got many years ago.

The one that said "Good boy ...tries hard..but.."
fatafr 1/26/2014 9:36:12 PM Report

First, I know many retired teachers and I don't know any that need to continue to work because they can't afford not to. The ones that I have heard of that continue to teach look at the money they're paid simply as pocket change. For example, one was over heard saying that this extra money will be great for spending money on her upcoming Dominican Republic vacation. Another said that this extra cash will come in handy to furnish his condo that he just bought in Florida. I could go on but I think I've made my point.
Why are some of you so defensive when it comes to this very serious topic. Someone has to speak up for our young graduates who simply want the same thing retired teachers had when they started; a chance to start teaching without interference. Private companies can do what they want but tax payed institutions should have to answer to the taxpayer.
We must find ways to keep our young people here. Otherwise this City will be going down a very slippery slope. You naysayers should be supportive of this thinking rather than jump down my throat because it, apparently, makes some of you feel good to criticize me. I hope you all have a nice week.
Retreaded 1/26/2014 11:15:57 PM Report

Mr. Fata...from my perspective the problem is your lack of knowledge or perhaps an inability to accept, that ANYONE HAS THE RIGHT TO WORK. You cannot single out a group of workers and chastise them if they want to work. Sure the pensions are one of the best. You are not privy to things that may have gone on in a teachers life that makes their financial portfolio insufficient. As a former teacher I can tell you that I retired earlier than most and I CREATED A JOB FOR A YOUNGER PERSON. Many teachers have done the same. I do not see you going after city workers perhaps who have many years of service yet stay on the job...and so they should...they also, as in any job... have the right to work in Canada. One final point...school boards call retired teachers when specialty subjects need to be covered and there is no one on the supply list that can cover those subjects. I was one of those called and I was pleased to help out my board. They called for a reason.
JB 1/27/2014 6:39:03 AM Report

Looks like edc is the place to find work,oh maybe we can get work at the new old stone house
CLT 1/27/2014 12:42:34 PM Report

Mr Fata

Please tell us what you spend your hard earned money on.

After all it is the taxpayers of Sault Ste. Marie who pay your wage.

Is it a vacation, a new car, home renovations?

I'm sure its all good.
Comments
13
Note: Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of SooToday.com. If you see an abusive post, please click the link beside the post to report it.
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