EDC looks to grow aviation and national defense sectors for the Sault

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Is the Sault an ideal location for a commercial airplane painting company to set up shop? The Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation (SSMEDC) thinks so and is in the process of gathering evidence to support its position. The organization received funding from the Federal Government’s Invest Canada – Community Initiatives program to undertake a business case. The goal: pinpoint the benefits an airplane painting firm would get from locating here. A Request for Proposal is available on the SSMEDC website  CLICK HERE

“When working to attract companies and investment, you need a solid business case to make a solid argument to the prospective firm,” said Tom Dodds, Chief Executive Officer of the SSMEDC. “We’re now looking to engage with a professional service provider to undertake a business case related to the aviation sector. Once complete, we’ll use the findings to pursue companies, with the objective of attracting business and foreign direct investment to Sault Ste. Marie.”

This initiative began last year when representatives from the SSMEDC and Sault Ste. Marie Airport Development Corporation attended the National Business Aviation Association convention. The aim was to generate business leads for the local airport. While at the event, the two officials met with a number of firms, including aviation painting companies. A pitch was made to have these types of businesses set up an operation in Sault Ste. Marie, which is already home to JD Aero, an aircraft maintenance and overhaul provider, along with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Sault College aviation program. Given the aviation cluster and growth potential, the Sault Airport is partnering with the SSMEDC to attract businesses.

To move the project forward, the SSMEDC applied to the Federal Government’s Invest Canada – Community Initiatives program, which is designed to help communities reach out to global companies so they can attract foreign direct investment and create jobs. Last week, the Ministry of International Trade announced that the Sault Ste. Marie application was one of 87 approved projects across the country that are receiving a total of $3.78 million in funding.  For more information on the announcement click here.

“The Government of Canada is committed to economic growth and diversification in Northern Ontario,” said Terry Sheehan, Member of Parliament‎ for Sault Ste. Marie. “Through the Invest Canada – Community Initiatives program, we are investing in the future of Sault Ste. Marie to attract, retain and expand direct investment so that we can continue to create jobs and ensure long-term growth for the middle class.”

Coupled with the Federal investment received by the SSMEDC to undertake an aviation business case, the organization also obtained funds to conduct promotional activity to attract foreign direct investment and undertake a separate business case related to the national defense sector. The SSMEDC is working with area companies on getting their “Controlled Goods” status, which is required to sell to major defense contractors. Over the next 10 years, Ottawa is expected to spend billions on national defense. The Federal Government’s Industrial Technology Benefits program aims to spread some of this business around the country. Northern Ontario is a designated area under the program, meaning qualified and registered companies in the region can take advantage of it. The SSMEDC is working closely with FedNor to ensure local firms are able to capitalize on this program. With the Sault home to Essar Steel Algoma, the only armoured plate manufacturer in Canada, foreign direct investment opportunities are available. A Request for Proposal for the defense sector business case is being developed by the SSMEDC and will be issued in the near term.

“Ultimately, these business cases will demonstrate the value of investing in such ventures, which will help us attract business, create jobs and further diversify the local economy,” said John Febbraro, Director of Business Development for the SSMEDC. “The successful attraction of other investments to the community will minimize the risk of local companies being fully dependent on one or two large organizations. In addition, these business cases will identify markets to be targeted for attracting investment and form the basis for activities to further attract new investments.”

These projects fall under the SSMEDC’s Invest Sault Ste. Marie initiative, a three-year program created to enhance the community’s economic development capacity and performance in key sectors. For the aviation and defense business cases, along with the foreign direct investment promotional project, the SSMEDC received a total of $70,000 from the Federal Government’s Invest Canada – Community Initiatives program. Every year, the SSMEDC uses its core funding to lever significant amounts of dollars from senior levels of government and the private sector to deliver projects in the community. For example, between 2010 and 2015, the organization received a total of $9.65 million from the City of Sault Ste. Marie and used this funding to secure more than $16.5 million from other sources. Being able to access such a high level of external funding is largely the result of the SSMEDC being an independent, non-for-profit corporation.