Charting a Course with Destiny
Sault Ste. Marie's community economic development and diversification strategy – Destiny Sault Ste. Marie – is making tracks in eight key areas, including tourism.
The Community Development Corporation of Sault Ste. Marie & Area, in partnership with FedNor and key community economic development stakeholders, played a pivotal role in helping the municipality turn its economy around in the wake of the restructuring of the city’s major employer, Algoma Steel, in 2001.
The group facilitated the development of a community economic development and diversification strategy for Sault Ste. Marie, aptly named, “Destiny.” The plan was developed to diversify, strengthen and grow the economic base of the community through the strategic development and promotion of key opportunities in Sault Ste. Marie. Destiny provided the direction and focus, empowering community champions to drive new initiatives forward.
And FedNor was there every step of the way, investing a total of $750,000 in three successive projects that included the development of a Community Sector Business Model, ensuring appropriate leadership and champions were in place for priority initiatives.
“With FedNor’s support we were able to take charge of our future and develop a framework to outline viable choices that would help us grow and diversify, building on our strengths and assets,” said Brian Irwin, Executive Director, Community Development Corporation of Sault Ste. Marie & Area.
With strategies in place for eight community priorities, the city has made gains in all areas including renewable energy, science and technology, and transportation infrastructure. In tourism development alone, progress includes the successful completion of the downtown development initiative, which was funded in part by FedNor and designed to encourage building façade improvements in downtown Sault Ste. Marie. Government incentive investments led to $9.8 million in spending from the private sector. More than 65 businesses participated in the program.
Thanks to multi-million-dollar coach improvements, along with more than $1 million in audio/video technology equipment from FedNor, ridership on the Agawa Canyon Tour Train is on the upswing. The revitalized tourism attraction is just one reason why visitors are flocking to the city. Another draw is the Essar Centre’s state-of-the-art high-tech audio and video system—made possible with FedNor funding—that has enabled the city to host a number of major events such as the 2010 Scotties Tournament of Hearts, the 2012 Canadian Adult Recreation Hockey Association World Cup and some top-notch entertainers.
“Without a plan, our community might have missed out on these great opportunities. This multi-pronged strategy has enabled us to channel our energy in specific areas to move toward realistic targets for the benefit of the entire community, helping to build a better tomorrow,” stated Irwin.
The Destiny strategy continues to guide economic development activity in the Sault Ste. Marie area today.