The Createch Group, headquartered in Montreal, Quebec founded a new office in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario in March of 2017. This office, named CREATECH365, offers new services for Microsoft Dynamics software support and development. It was established through a unique partnership between Createch, Microsoft, Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre, Sault College of Applied Arts and Technology and other community stakeholders. The affiliation of these organizations stands to create tremendous benefit through leading-edge educational instruction, software extension development, consulting, and sales for the cloud-based Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Edition, an advanced technology solution for Small to Medium Sized Business (SMB).
This partnership strategically aligns with the vision of stakeholders in the city of Sault Ste. Marie and partners to promote a shift from the city’s historical economy of manufacturing and a move toward technologies. “This is great news for Sault Ste. Marie. The Createch Group could have located this new division anywhere and they chose Sault Ste. Marie. That speaks volumes to what we have to offer and our potential to grow and exceed expectations,” said Christian Provenzano, Mayor of Sault Ste. Marie, in a press release. “This new operation will help retain youth, attract a skilled workforce and young professionals, encourage further economic development in the technology sector and drive academic enrollment in our science and technology programs.”
The Createch Group is a Canadian leader in business transformation. The organization’s mission is to significantly improve the profitability of their clients through the optimization of their processes and the implementation of world-class software solutions. Since its inception in 1993, the firm has assisted more than 1,200 companies in improving their competitiveness and performance through the delivery of some 2,000 projects.
Mario Chabot, Createch’s General Manager of Microsoft Business Solutions, initiated the project back in June of 2016. Tom Vair, then Executive Director of SSMIC, a non-profit organization with a mandate to grow the science and technology sector in the Algoma District, received a call from Mr. Chabot inquiring about a business opportunity that could be developed in Sault Ste. Marie by Createch in collaboration with Microsoft. Mr. Chabot previously had worked for EDS Canada in Sault Ste. Marie during the late 1990’s and helped establish the Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre and its renowned Community Geomatics Centre. He knew this location would be a good fit for this multi-year project that has the potential to create up to 200 well paid IT jobs based around Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 suite.
Gerry Bugyra, Operations Manager / Director of Marketing and Sales for CREATECH365, then held the position of Business Development Manager at SSMIC, was brought into discussions with representatives from Microsoft, Sault College, Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation and FedNor to identify opportunities and explore any funding options that could be accessed to support a project of this magnitude and to solidify a case for the Createch Group to establish an office in Sault Ste. Marie.
In September of 2016 applications were submitted to FedNor and to the Norther Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC) under the Business Expansion Program for consideration.
Meetings were setup in October of that year with Sault MP, Terry Sheehan and the Federal Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, Navdeep Bains, to discuss other funding opportunities. At the time, Minister Bains explained that ‘clean tech’ and IT development globally accounted for 3 trillion dollars and that Canada would acquire 3% of that market.
The Sault Ste. Marie City Council voted to support the initiative in December 2016 with a $200,000 grant over two years from the Economic Development Fund.
Since these events, Sault College entered into a formal partnership with project stakeholders and Microsoft to implement the Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Financials training as part of the full curriculum for its IT and Business students thus creating a pipeline of trained individuals and securing needed talent for the project. This partnership is the first of its kind in the world where an academic institution will integrate the most current Dynamics 365 Financials software release into the curriculum for both the Business and Information Technologies Studies programs starting September 2017.
Additionally, as of June 2017, Sault College has also been chosen to be a Microsoft Dynamics Academic Alliance Premier Member, a designation that is the first of its kind in Canada. With this membership, Sault College students will have opportunities to work on applied research projects for CREATECH365 during work term placements and upon graduation.
“The partnership with the Createch Group and Microsoft creates exciting opportunities for our students and grads who wish to pursue a career in IT. The project builds on the College’s tradition of providing educational programing that is closely aligned with employer needs and also supports our strategy to broaden and integrate experiential learning opportunities for our students,” stated Colin Kirkwood, Sault College, V.P. Academic and Research.
A new $18.2 million iE3 wing (Institute for Environment, Education and Entrepreneurship) is currently under construction at Sault College and will provide a new home for a variety of spaces supporting learning in the field of information technology as well as the new offices for CREATECH365. Createch will move its Sault operation into the iE3 building upon its completion, which is slated for summer 2018. This partnership will provide an ideal opportunity for Sault College students from Business and Information Technology programs to collaborate with faculty and Createch staff on applied research projects that will involve developing code, testing functionality and designing user experience aspects for new, customized Microsoft Dynamics software extensions.
Sault College is committed to expanding its Information Technology and Business program capacity to meet the needs of Createch and other businesses currently in the community or planning to locate in Sault Ste. Marie. This strategy is strongly supported within the community and is aligned with the overall need to creating an ICT talent pool in Sault Ste. Marie. This commitment will advance the diversification of the local economy from traditional heavy industrial manufacturing to technology.
CREATECH365, the Createch Group’s Sault office, was established in March 2017 and will reach at least 20 employees by the end of 2017. The operation is located at 258 Queen St. East in the SSMIC Accelerator Hub.
A grand opening gala for CREATECH365 is planned for this September at Sault College to mark this significant partnership. All levels of government, city officials, local business owners, representatives from Createch, Sault College and Microsoft will attend.