On a mission to grow Northern Ontario

Open for Business
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A bright, colourful façade welcomes diners to Eva Kossa’s restaurant in Sudbury, specializing in African cuisine.

In 2010, the Réseau de développement économique et d’employabilité de l’Ontario (RDÉE-Ontario) and other partners launched a provincial awareness-building and economic integration campaign called La Bonne affaire, the initiative, which was recently recognized at the Toronto Board of Trade Awards, helps businesses seek out new talent and assists new Francophone immigrants find employment or create their own job through entrepreneurship. A year later, an investment of $75,000 through FedNor’s Economic Development Initiatives (EDI) in support of official language minority communities, enabled RDÉE to expand the reach of this initiative in Northern Ontario.

With a life-long dream of starting her own business, Eva Kossa, a newcomer to Sudbury, took advantage of RDÉE’s initiative. “I’ve always been passionate about cooking and wanted to open a restaurant introducing African cuisine to Greater Sudbury,” she said. “Through RDÉE’s initiative for new immigrants, I received invaluable guidance in all aspects of entrepreneurship. With my business plan in hand, I opened KOSSA’S – Saveur d’Afrique, in the Summer of 2012.”

Export readiness is another key priority for RDÉE. In 2012, a FedNor investment of over $600,000 helped RDÉE launch “Affaires et Alliances”, a business education and exporting program for Northern Ontario small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The program offers training sessions, workshops, individual consultations and business matchmaking activities.

“Our ultimate goal is to reduce distances between businesses and organizations and to create economic opportunities,” said Alain Thivierge, Director, Economic missions at RDÉE-Ontario. “Our Affaires et Alliances initiative is assisting SMEs expand beyond Northern Ontario and reach national and global markets. Through activities that foster business partnerships and networking, our programming offers entrepreneurs opportunities to incorporate the principles of alliances in their business models, thus promoting business expansion.”

A breath of fresh air
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Workers at Schauenburg Industries Ltd. in North Bay, put the finishing touches to a length of flexible ventilation pipe for use as an air duct in an underground mine.

Through the Affaires et Alliances initiative, Don Croteau, Managing Director of Schauenburg Industries Ltd. in North Bay attended Centrallia, a Global Business-to-Business Forum in Winnipeg. “Centrallia gave me the opportunity to meet a multitude of businesses in just a few days, an exercise that would have taken me years on my own. We were all there for the same reason, to grow our businesses and to find others interested in our products and services,” said Croteau. With the contacts he made through Centrallia, Don Croteau has been speaking with potential customers interested in Schauenburg’s main business activity which is the manufacture of ventilation ducting for the mining industry.

Keeping with RDÉE’s strategy of bringing businesses together, a delegation of Northern Ontario businesses and economic development organizations participated in a mission to Europe and attended the World Bioenergy 2012 conference in Jönköping, Sweden in May.

“Europe is a world leader in bio-energy, and this emerging sector is important to Northern Ontario’s economy. By attending the mission, Northern delegates were able to learn about best practices and better understand opportunities and risks in the sector,” said Jason Naccarato, Vice President, Development, Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre.

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