Redefining the Classroom

Sault Ste. Marie Recognized for Entrepreneurial Climate

Posted: November 26th, 2014

Front Row (left to right): Eric Becks, CEO & President SSMart, Inc. (Sault Ste. Marie SmartZone); Oliver Turner City Manager; Mayor Tony Bosbous; Kristen Claus, Executive Director Sault Economic Development Corporation; Les Thornton, CFO AMI Industries. Back Row (left to Right): Don Gerrie City Commissioner; Jeff Holt, Chairman Sault Economic Development Corporation; Tom William, Vice-President Operation Hoover Precision Products. (LSSU/John Shibley)

A print-resolution photo that runs with this caption can be found by clicking here.

Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – The City of Sault Ste. Marie is one of six Michigan communities named as positive role models for the strategies employed to foster entrepreneurial growth and economic development, according to the annual eCities study.

The study, conducted by iLabs, University of Michigan-Dearborn’s Center for Innovation Research, identified the Village of Almont, Delta Charter Township, City of Madison Heights, City of Midland, City of Saline and City of Sault Ste. Marie for their incentives, innovative programs and best practices geared toward business development.

“eCities highlights how local governments from across Michigan are growing their communities and supporting businesses. Being a university, we want to share the successes and educate about the best practices that can be used by other communities in the state,” said Tim Davis, iLabs director.

Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation (EDC) Executive Director Kristen Claus said she is pleased by the honor and finds the designation helpful in evaluating their programs.

“The U of M iLabs eCities project is a great opportunity for the community to gauge and measure our community’s successes, as well as those areas we still need to improve in order for us to fully support business growth and the entrepreneurial climate,” Claus said.

Jeffrey Holt, chairman of the Sault Ste. Marie (Michigan) EDC said the organization continues to provide a solid foundation for area manufacturers.

“The Sault has maintained a steady manufacturing base and has created almost 600 jobs. Many of our local manufacturer’s roots started and grew in our Industrial Incubator. It is the leadership and ongoing efforts provided by the EDC that supports our local manufacturer’s job growth in our community,” he explained.

Entrepreneurs in the Sault Ste. Marie area can receive assistance developing business and financial plans, obtaining loan assistance, training, developing new products, and other specialized services needed by businesses. Claus said these services come through a number of entities, including: Sault SmartZone – SSMart, Inc. Business Accelerator; Lake Superior State University; Product Development Center operated by Lake Superior State University; Soo Industrial Incubator; and EUP Michigan Works!

In addition, the economic development organizations from both Sault Ste. Marie Michigan and Ontario are working to situate the two communities as an international gateway for economic growth and a hub for successful entrepreneurialism.

“The abundance of partnerships that the City enjoys with LSSU, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, the Sault Tribe, and our local, state, and federal partners is a true resource base that bolsters an atmosphere of entrepreneurial spirit. We can continue building on these partnerships to achieve an even brighter future,” said Mayor Anthony Bosbous.

One of the most recent developments was the construction of a technology-focused “breeder” building – dubbed as such because it provides a breeding ground for the growth and development of businesses and job creation.

“We are seeing the nature of economic development evolving, and eCities is a tool to help local governments demonstrate their role in the changing economy. These governments are supporting unique and innovative efforts locally, while collaborating regionally to help Michigan business compete in an ever-changing business climate,” Davis said.

Sault Ste. Marie was also named a “five-star performer” by eCities. Five-star communities spent a combined $2.6 million on economic development, had more than $140 million in additions to assets in the past year and had more than $19 billion in combined real and personal property values.

City Manager Oliver Turner said the recognition by eCities is proof positive that Sault Ste. Marie is a first rate community that is effectively driving economic growth in the region.

“This award shows that Sault Ste. Marie has the necessary balance of opportunity and local support to encourage business growth,” Turner said.

The annual eCities research project, which began in 2007, uses data supplied by the participants, as well as other public records to assemble a six-factor, 32-item index of entrepreneurial activity, looking at such factors as clustering, incentives, growth, policies, community and education. The study focuses on entrepreneurship because of its importance to expansion and diversification of Michigan’s regional economies and the impact small businesses have on job creation. To date, 197 communities across Michigan have participated in the study.


CONTACTS: Kristen Klaus, Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation, e-mail, 906-635-9131; Tom Pink, e-mail, 635-2315; John Shibley, e-mail, 635-2314.