A Billion Reasons to Choose Sault Ste. Marie
Every city has competitive advantages – assets and features that make it stand out as a good place to do business.
For Sault Ste. Marie, a key advantage is its location at the heart of the Great Lakes, on the U.S. border and Interstate-75, and at the centre of the Trans-Canada Highway. A recent announcement highlights this fact.
For the past few years, Noront Resources has been working to develop a $1-billion ferrochrome production facility in Northern Ontario. Once operational, the manufacturing complex is expected to employ between 300 and 500 people directly, along with more than 1,000 indirectly through suppliers and other businesses.
In May 2019, following an extensive community proposal and site selection process, the company announced that Sault Ste. Marie was selected as the host location. The decision was based on a number of key factors, with two of the most important being the city’s strategic location on the Great Lakes and cost competitiveness.
When reviewing and evaluating the proposals...we found that the Sault offers us
a lower operating cost. This tipped the balance in favour of Sault Ste. Marie.”
- Alan Coutts, President and CEO of Noront Resources.
“When reviewing and evaluating the proposals from four Northern Ontario communities, we found that the Sault offers us a lower operating cost,” said Alan Coutts, President and CEO of Noront Resources. “This tipped the balance in favour of Sault Ste. Marie.”
Set to be located on Algoma Steel property, the facility will process chrome ore from deposits in the Ring of Fire site located in the James Bay lowlands. Once converted into ferrochrome, the product will be sent south to be used in the American stainless steel industry.
Being able to ship ferrochrome out – and raw products in – on the Great Lakes is a major advantage. Water is the cheapest form of transporting goods, and Sault Ste. Marie lies strategically between Lake Superior and Lake Huron.
During the site selection process, Noront Resources was also impressed by the community’s skilled workforce and infrastructure, along with the support of Algoma Steel, the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation, City of Sault Ste. Marie and other local organizations. However, the company was especially smitten by the site’s proximity to the Great Lakes, the world’s most economically-significant waterway transportation corridor.
“This establishes what we know to be true: Sault Ste. Marie is a great place to do business,” said Mayor Christian Provenzano. “We look forward to working with the company over the coming months and years to ensure this project rolls out safely and meets all environmental regulations. We are also committed to substantial First Nation and community consultation and engagement as we move forward.”
Construction on the ferrochrome production facility is still several years away and, before shovels go into the ground, environmental assessments and regulatory approval are required. Nevertheless, Noront’s selection of Sault Ste. Marie as the host site for its project provides a solid case study on the city’s competitive advantages – in particular, cost competitiveness, infrastructure, labour force and its location at the centre of the Great Lakes.
"Our company has been able to find the talent, resources and partnerships to establish a business
here, at what amounts to 30% less cost than operating in the Greater Toronto Area."
- Bryan Davies, Co-Founder UFE Tagona Press
“Our location on the St. Mary’s River and U.S. border is a big sell, especially for manufacturing firms that export products or import raw material,” said Dan Hollingsworth, Executive Director of the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation. “Depending on the company we’re working to attract, we highlight other advantages as well, including our skilled workforce, access to Algoma University and Sault College, and the city’s overall low cost of doing business.”
Through its Invest Sault Ste. Marie, the organization works to attract business and investment to the community. Over the past few years, its staff helped draw a number of firms, including Canadian Bank Note, JD Aero, Createch, Wisconsin Resorts, Pollard Banknote, CX Solutions, PLATO Testing, UFE Tagona Press and – the most recent success story – Noront Resources.
Sault Ste. Marie is also very cost-competitive. The city ranked 10th globally in the 2016 KPMG Competitive Alternatives study – comparing operating costs for nine different sectors. Combining this with affordable commercial land and housing costs, lower labour costs and lower overall cost of living Sault Ste. Marie becomes very attractive to business and industry.
UFE Tagona Press, a multi-media publishing company recently chose Sault Ste. Marie for just this reason.
“I can’t say enough about the assistance we have received since coming to Sault Ste. Marie,” said Bryan Davies, cofounder of UFE Tagona Press. “Our company has been able to find the talent, resources and partnerships to establish a business here, at what amounts to 30% less cost than operating in the Greater Toronto Area. Simply put, it made perfect sense to set up an office here, and I thank the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation for their support.”
Local Success Stories
Sault Ste. Marie selected for $1 billion processing facility
Sault Ste. Marie has been selected by Noront Resources Ltd. as the host location for a Ferrochrome Production Facility (FPF).
The city’s submission was based on comprehensive research and analysis by the Sault Ste. Marie FPF project team, in consultation with sector experts. It focused on competitive advantages such as: location, logistics, industrial workforce, infrastructure and the community, and was aided by a great partner in Algoma Steel, along with operating and capital costs that were attractive to Noront.
“This establishes what we know to be true: Sault Ste. Marie is a great place to do business,” said Mayor Christian Provenzano. “I want to recognize the efforts of the FPF project team, the support of the executive leadership at Algoma Steel, and the support of MP Sheehan, MPP Romano, Chief Sayers of Batchewana First Nation and Chief Syrette of Garden River First Nation. I also want to ensure our community and our Indigenous partners that we are committed to substantial community consultation and engagement as we move forward.”
“Sault Ste. Marie was selected based on its environmental and site suitability, capital and operating costs and an assessment of community acceptance for hosting the facility,” said Alan Coutts, President and CEO of Noront Resources. “We anticipate a lengthy and comprehensive environmental permitting process for our ferrochrome production facility, which will allow us to engage in a fulsome way with the citizens of Sault Ste. Marie and other stakeholders including environmental groups and First Nations.”
Once operational, it is expected the FPF will employ between 300 and 500 people directly, along with more than 1,000 indirectly through suppliers and other businesses. Noront plans to locate the FPF on Algoma Steel property, and the company is currently in the process of finalizing a land agreement with the steelmaker.
Moving forward, key steps include environmental and feasibility assessments, along with community consultation and engagement. Following completion of the aforementioned, project design will be initiated and technical approvals sought, leading to tendering for construction.
This work will lead to construction of the FPF, which is expected to begin in mid-2025. It will take approximately three years to build, at an estimated cost of approximately $1 billion. The timeline is dependent on the development of road infrastructure to the Ring of Fire.
“The project team has developed a great relationship with Noront and its management team, and we are looking forward to continue working with them,” said project lead Dan Hollingsworth, Executive Director of the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation. “In particular, it will be important to educate and engage with the community regarding this project and the current technological process involved in a modern Ferrochrome Production Facility, and I know Noront is committed to work with us in this regard.”
Noront Resources, a Canadian-based mining firm, is planning to build a FPF in Northern Ontario that would produce ferrochrome, a key ingredient in stainless steel. Sault Ste. Marie was originally shortlisted in November 2017 as one of four potential locations. Mayor Provenzano, along with the project team, presented the city’s submission to Noront in February 2018. Sault Ste. Marie was selected in July 2018 as one of the two communities moving forward to the next stage and, in May 2019, was chosen as the host location for the FPF. To learn more, visit the project website at www.SaultFPFproject.com.
Multi-media publishing firm sets up in Sault Ste. Marie
A multi-media publishing company is establishing an operation in Sault Ste. Marie.
UFE Tagona Press, a subsidiary of Toronto-based United Front Entertainment, specializes in researching, developing and publishing compelling historical non-fiction and reality-based content. The business is working to produce short and feature-length documentary films, podcasts, and other content.
UFE Tagona Press has a number of development projects underway. Of significant interest locally, the company is working to complete a biography on Francis H. Clergue, the American entrepreneur who moved to Sault Ste. Marie in 1895 to build the “New Chicago.” Impressed by the wealth of natural resources, the industrialist went on establish a number of area ventures, including the Sault Ste. Marie Pulp & Paper Company (St. Marys Paper), Algoma Steel, Lake Superior Power Company and Algoma Central Railway.
In a twist of fate, UFE Tagona Press is now operating at the Millworks - Centre for Entrepreneurship. Located in the redeveloped Machine Shop of the former St. Marys Paper site, the facility is managed by the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation. The organization, through its Invest Sault Ste. Marie program, has been working with the company over the past several months to aid in its transition to the community and help forge partnerships with local suppliers.
“I can’t say enough about the assistance we have received since coming to Sault Ste. Marie,” said Bryan Davies, co-founder of UFE Tagona Press. “Our company has been able to find the talent, resources and partnerships to establish a business here, at what amounts to 30% less cost than operating in the Greater Toronto Area. Simply put, it made perfect sense to set up an office here, and I thank the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation for their support.”
The Invest Sault Ste. Marie program from the Economic Development Corporation aims to attract business and investment to the community. Staff makes regular pitches to external companies and promotes the Sault’s competitive advantages. UFE Tagona Press is the latest success under this program.
“It’s great to see another company establish a presence in our city,” said Nevin Buconjic, Manager of Trade, Investment & Community Marketing for the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation. “We look forward to continuing to work with the team at UFE Tagona Press as the business undertakes its latest development project.”
To learn more about United Front Entertainment, visit www.unitedfront.media. For more information on the Economic Development Corporation’s Invest Sault Ste. Marie program, go to www.investsaultstemarie.com.
Global tech firm establishing operation in Sault Ste. Marie
A global tech and consulting firm, CX Solutions, is establishing a Technology Centre of Excellence in Sault Ste. Marie.
The company is looking for energetic and talented individuals to join its growing team with skills in technical support and customer success. Further expansion is expected later this year.
CX Solutions, which provides business processing services to clients around the world, is also looking to hire Project Coordinators, Customer Experience Specialists and Help Desk Specialists. To learn more, view the job postings at https://ca.indeed.com/Cx-Solutions-jobs or www.employment-solutions.ca.
CX Solutions specializes in the following areas: technology assessments, customer experience capability, technical architecture design, managed services, customer support, and digital transformation.
“We work with our clients to analyze, improve, and enable their desired customer experience,” said Frank Muzzi, the company’s Managing Partner of Technology Practice. “We help clients transform their business, improve profitability, and increase overall market share.”
The Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation has been assisting CX Solutions in the company’s latest growth plans. This support will remain ongoing as the firm establishes and expands its presence in Sault Ste. Marie.
“Through our Invest Sault Ste. Marie program, we work to attract business and investment to the city, which ultimately creates jobs and generates wealth,” said Nevin Buconjic, Manager of Trade, Investment & Community Marketing for the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation. “We’re thrilled to see CX Solutions set up an operation here, and we look forward to continuing to work with the company in the weeks and months to come.”
SSMEDC secures $5M to facilitate a major destination attraction
The Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation, in partnership with SIS Group, secured $5 million in funding to establish a major destination attraction on the former St. Marys Paper site. The investment is coming from the province's Northern Ontario Heritage Fund.
With a total project cost of $10 million, the Paper Mill District initiative is set to include a number of components, including a new station for the Agawa Canyon Tour Train, microbrewery and pub, fountain and outdoor skating pavilion, exhibition area, and retail outlets.
"This development project is designed to create jobs and attract visitors to our community while also providing quality-of-life benefits to area residents," said Dan Hollingsworth, Executive Director of the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation. "We're thrilled to have secured an investment from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund, and we look forward to working with the owner of the property on rolling out this development initiative."
The former St. Marys Paper site is owned by SIS Group. This local company will be contributing 50% of the $10-million project cost. Construction on the initiative, which is staged over a three-year period, is set to begin by the summer of 2019.
"This project came together thanks to a solid partnership between the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation, SIS Group, the Province of Ontario and a number of other organizations," said Hollingsworth. "Teamwork is usually a recipe for success, and we certainly have a great team assembled for the Paper Mill District initiative."
For more information on this project, read the press release from the Province of Ontario at: https://news.ontario.ca/mndmf/en/2019/03/ontario-supporting-tourism-and-job-creation-in-sault-ste-marie.html.
SSMEDC client receives 6-figure investment from Silicon Valley
Melissa Kargiannakis, founder and CEO of skritswap, is riding high. Her company recently received a six-figure investment from Boost VC, a venture capital firm located in Silicon Valley, California.
To learn more about the announcement, visit the skritswap website.
Skritswap uses artificial intelligence to replace complex jargon with plain language. Its software is able to swap any document, like a mortgage or tax code, from its original wording to three different levels of complexity.
“The technology has the potential to change the way people consume information,” said Kargiannakis. “My goal with skritswap is to empower every single person who has an internet connection with access to this technology. This investment from Boost VC validates our growth to date and helps further our goal.”
To help expand her business during the early years of operation, she enrolled in the Starter Company program in 2016. Administered in the region by the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation, it provides entrepreneurs with training, mentoring and potential access to funding to start or grow a business.
“The discretionary spending of the Starter Company money was really helpful to cover items that many other government grants would not,” said Kargiannakis. “Working with the staff at the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation on thinking through the early business plan was great.”
Starter Company is funded by the Province of Ontario. Over the past four years, the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation has assisted 318 businesses through the program, which is now open to entrepreneurs ages 18 and older.
“Starter Company is our flagship small business program,” said Zoltan Virag, Manager of Small Business Advisory Services for the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation. “Though not all applicants receive grants, the training and mentoring is especially valuable. Over the course of a few weeks, we help entrepreneurs develop their business plans through the learning outcomes of the course materials."
The Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation delivers enterprise service programs from its Millworks - Centre for Entrepreneurship. Located at the Machine Shop, the facility is also home to a small business incubator that currently hosts eight companies.
JD Aero flying high with growth initiative
The Sault Ste. Marie Airport Development Corporation and Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation are working on a joint initiative that’s expected to generate 25 high-end jobs.
It was announced today that the airport is receiving $1.8 million from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation. The investment will be used towards a $5.8-million expansion of the hangar facilities occupied by JD Aero Technical, an aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul provider. With more space, the company is able to grow and meet the needs of its newest clients, WestJet and Horizon.
“JD Aero has quickly expanded at the Sault Airport to become a cornerstone tenant for the SSMADC growing from three employees to more than 100 employees in less than 10 years,” said Terry Bos, President and CEO of the Sault Ste. Marie Airport Development Corporation, the non-profit organization that operates the local airport.
By growing its hangar facilities and services, JD Aero is expanding its full-time permanent workforce from 50 to 75 employees. This brings the total full-time and part-time employees to approximately 110 jobs. Click for more
Arauco - SSMEDC partnership comes to successful fruition
When people and groups work together for a common goal, great things can happen. An announcement today from Arauco North America (formerly Flakeboard Co.) and the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation (SSMEDC) once again demonstrates that the adage is correct.
The company is finalizing an agreement to purchase its facility from the SSMEDC, a transaction that completes an extremely successful multi-year partnership.
First, some background: in the mid-1990s, the SSMEDC worked with Federal and Provincial officials to help attract GP Flakeboard to Sault Ste. Marie. The company set up a facility on Base Line to manufacture medium-density fibreboard (MDF). This venture proved to be successful for all parties involved, directly benefitting the local economy and community in general.
During its first years of operating, Flakeboard transported some of its MDF to a facility in southern Ontario to be laminated and used for mouldings, cabinets and other finished products. Seeing an opportunity, the SSMEDC team worked with Flakeboard and developed a business case to have the company expand its local operation and do the lamination right here in Sault Ste. Marie.
With business case in hand, the SSMEDC approached the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund, FedNor and the Community Development Corporation. The three funding agencies, along with the City of Sault Ste. Marie, stepped up to the plate to support the Flakeboard expansion project. Click for more
SSMEDC client embarking on a major expansion initiative
A local industrial firm is set to significantly expand its production capacity.
Envirotek Sealing and Fibreglassing recently received a $1-million investment from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC) to help purchase additional machinery and construct a new building on Allen’s Side Road. The project will create and retain jobs while also adding to the Municipal tax base.
Envirotek currently offers services such as corrosion, asbestos and lead abatement, along with specialized sealing and foam spray insulation. Under its growth initiative, the business will be expanding its product line to include custom design and the fabrication of all metal products for the HVAC industry.
At the funding announcement on June 11, 2015, company President Patrick Praysner thanked the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation for helping the expansion project come to fruition. The organization worked with him on the Provincial funding application and assisted the business in forming other strategic partnerships, including one with the Business Development Bank of Canada.
“The level of support we received from the team at the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation was phenomenal,” said Praysner. “They were instrumental in helping us secure financing for this project, and we couldn’t have done it without them.” Click for more