A community-wide effort to retain Searchmont Ski Resort was recognized on the provincial stage this week. At the annual conference of the Economic Developers Council of Ontario, the project won the 2019 EDCO Community Economic Development Award. This accolade followed a multi-year endeavour led by the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation.
Searchmont Resort attracts thousands of visitors to the region each year and also provides quality-of-life benefits to area residents. In 2014, the ski hill was unable to clear a sizable amount of debt and was in jeopardy of closing down. To ensure the attraction kept operating, and kept drawing visitors, the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation purchased the community asset in December 2014.
Through its Searchmont Retention Project, the organization’s goal was to facilitate capital improvements then sell the ski hill to a viable new owner. That’s precisely what happened. In November 2018, the corporation sold the attraction to Wisconsin Resorts, an experienced firm that owns and operates four ski hills in the United States.
“Our Searchmont Retention Project would not have been possible without the support of many partners,” said Terry Rainone, President of the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation. “I send my sincere thanks to the Searchmont Ski Association, Joseph Kosik of Wisconsin Resorts, FedNor, Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation, City of Sault Ste. Marie, Algoma University, Sault College, Lake Superior State University, local entrepreneur Frank Shunock, Dr. Floreani O’Toole & Dool Orthodontists, and all the resort’s business sponsors and supporters. I would also like to thank our current and former Board members and staff who worked tirelessly to ensure a positive outcome for this initiative, including Greg Punch, Frank O’Connor, Robert Reid, Karen Madigan and Dan Hollingsworth. With people working together, this project was a success. I thank everyone for their support and wish the new owner best of luck moving forward.”
Located 48 kilometres north of Sault Ste. Marie, Searchmont Resort is a premier-ranked regional training and recreation facility. With a 700-foot vertical and 21 runs, the ski hill features high-quality mountain terrain, amenities, events and entertainment. To learn more, including ticket and accommodation information, visit www.searchmont.com.
The Economic Developers Council of Ontario is an industry advocacy organization that provides leadership to enhance the professional development of its members. The agency works to advance economic development as a profession and support municipalities in fostering prosperity throughout the province. For more information, go to www.edco.on.ca.