A world famous Chinese wildlife photographer and conservationist visited the Sault area this week. Xi Zhinong and two of his students came here to document their experience through the Canadian wilderness. They visited the Art Gallery of Algoma to learn about the Group of Seven and checked out the Bushplane Museum to learn about wildlife protection in Canada. The visitors also went on the Agawa Canyon Tour Train and took a float plane to the Chapleau Game Reserve. While taking photos of their travels, the trip was captured by a documentary film crew, which will produce and air the film in China in the coming months. The area visit was facilitated by Tourism Sault Ste. Marie, a division of the SSMEDC, in conjunction with the Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership Corporation and Destination Canada. Over the past several years, Tourism Sault Ste. Marie has been working to grow the international travel market, particularly in Asia.
· This week, the SSMEDC met with four companies as part of its Business Retention and Expansion (BR&E) outreach efforts. The initiative assists firms in their expansion plans and helps them become more competitive, which creates or retains jobs. To support growth projects and develop funding applications to senior levels of government, the SSMEDC has made 24 initial site visits, along with 33 subsequent visits, to local companies in 2015. Five funding applications have been approved, and three are under development. To assist businesses with their growth projects, the SSMEDC works with FedNor, the NOHFC, Community Development Corporation and BDC. Last year, under its BR&E program, the SSMEDC assisted 13 companies in their expansion plans, which created or retained 420 jobs and led to $22 million in investments. To take advantage of the BR&E program, contact John Febbraro or Dan Hollingsworth at 705-759-5432.
· Tourism Sault Ste. Marie’s partnership with South Korean travel operators continues to bear sizeable fruit. Several years back, the SSMEDC division began an initiative to attract group tours from the east Asian country. The itinerary has the travellers fly to Chicago, then board a bus north to Sault Ste. Marie. While here, they visit area attractions, including a full-day ride on the Agawa Canyon Tour Train, which is the region’s number one travel generator. In 2012, when the partnership began, around 60 South Korean visitors came here. In 2013 and 2014, that number increased to 150 and 300 respectively. This year, through the Tourism Sault Ste. Marie partnership, more than 500 visitors from South Korea are expected to come here. It’s important to note that these travellers are generally high-end spenders who inject a significant amount of capital into the local economy.
· The website for the SSMEDC’s Millworks initiative recently went live. Available at www.themillworks.ca, the site contains information on the Corporation’s Enterprise Services facility, which is currently under construction in the Machine Shop at Mill Square. When operational later this summer, the complex will host a Small Business Incubator for entrepreneurs to operate their budding companies and will provide its clients with a number of direct services, including coaching, mentoring and marketing assistance. Located at the former St. Marys Paper property, Millworks will also be home to the SSMEDC’s Enterprise Services programs, including Starter Company and Summer Company. Meanwhile, the Millworks website was designed and produced internally by the Corporation’s staff, making the development and maintenance of the online tool very cost effective.