Competitive gaming is one of the fastest-growing sports in North America. UMG Media Corp. is at the forefront of this trend. The e-sports company has been operating in the United States and western Canada for several years. Wanting to move further into the Ontario market, the firm recently established a presence in Sault Ste. Marie.
UMG Media Corp. now has an office at the Millworks Centre for Entrepreneurship. Operated by the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation, the facility houses the organization’s enterprise support programs and advisors, along with a business incubator that currently hosts seven companies. The site features resources and expertise to help businesses reach a higher level of operation.
“The Millworks Centre for Entrepreneurship is a perfect fit for us,” said Dave Antony, Chair of UMG Media Corp. “It’s a tremendous facility. Our team is able to collaborate with other users and utilize the in-house business support staff. The space works very well for us.”
E-sports is a wide-reaching industry, but a key component is competitive video game tournaments. A couple decades ago, large-scale online tourneys began popping up around the world. UMG Media Corp. wanted in on this growing sector. In 2010, it established an office in St. Louis and began hosting group tournaments in the United States. A couple years ago, company officials decided to expand north and set up a western Canada location in Calgary.
With the sport continuing to grow, UMG Media Corp. recently set its sights on further expansion. The company was contacted by the business development team from UP, the Sault’s lottery and gaming pursuit project out of the Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre, as part of its outreach to the industry. UP’s focused approach to leveraging its pre-existing relationships within the sector led the team to executives at UMG Media Corp., whose expansion plans dove-tailed nicely with the focused cluster development work that UP is undertaking.
“Our team’s focus on the needs of UMG Media Corp., in both the short and long-term, really differentiated UP and Sault Ste. Marie as a desirable partner and location from which to base the company’s eastern Canadian operations,” said Leo Tiberi, Executive Lead at UP. “Through an accelerated business development model and a close relationship with UMG Media Corp., we were able to facilitate the establishment of its operations out of the Millworks Centre for Entrepreneurship and create jobs here in Sault Ste. Marie. This is a great example of how our economic development agencies can work together to bring new industry and jobs to our city.”
Simply put, with community groups working together, UMG Media Corp. saw the benefits of locating here. “We realized that Sault Ste. Marie has the human resource expertise we require, and the quality of life is superb,” said Martin Brown, Chief Operating Officer of UMG Media Corp. “Also, you can operate a lot more economically in Sault Ste. Marie than you can in the Greater Toronto Area or other major cities.”
UMG Media Corp. hosted an e-sports tournament in Sault Ste. Marie at the Machine Shop in April. A second tourney was held earlier this month in Sudbury. These stops are part of an Ontario tour that will include more cities in the coming months.
“We’re touring across the province,” said Jenna Marsh, Canada Events Manager for UMG Media Corp. “The goal is to host a tournament every six to eight weeks. This is the beginning of a great opportunity. As we expand, there will be further opportunities for growth and, with our eastern Canada office located in Sault Ste. Marie, there will also be further opportunities for the city as well.”
Meanwhile, since the facility opened in May 2016, a number of companies have moved into the Millworks Centre for Entrepreneurship, with some businesses graduating or moving on to other locations in the community. Clients include: BonZa Global Inc., NorthStar Consulting Ltd., Jeronamo Solutions, Possibilities Group, MBR Services Inc., Beaver & Eagle Automotive Technologies, Dizzytree, On Focus Now, and Swamp Woods Unlimited.
“We’ve seen an interesting mix of businesses – everything from a marketing firm to an auto parts manufacturer,” said Andrew Ross, Manager of Enterprise Services for the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation. “Studies show that after five years of operation, businesses that utilize incubation services have a success rate of more than 80%, compared to about 33% for non-incubated companies. We established the Millworks Centre for Entrepreneurship to maximize the success rates of our clients. This initiative is helping to create jobs, and we thank our funding partners for making it possible.”
Supported by FedNor, the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund and City of Sault Ste. Marie, the Millworks Centre for Entrepreneurship is located in the Machine Shop at the former St. Marys Paper site. The initiative is a key component of the community’s downtown Canal District revitalization plan.
While supporting small businesses through programs offered at the Millworks Centre for Entrepreneurship, the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation also delivers a Business Retention & Expansion Program that assists large firms in their growth initiatives, along with Invest Sault Ste. Marie, which aims to attract companies and investment to the community. Last year, these programs generated more than 30 new business startups and 20 business expansions. To learn more, visit www.sault-canada.com. Also online: www.themillworks.ca.