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Export marketing program lives on

May 28, 2014
by Norm Tollinsky
In: News

Twenty additional mining suppliers invited to participate in strategic export marketing exercise

Scott Rennie, program manager.

A provincial government program designed to enhance the exporting capabilities of Northern Ontario mining supply and service companies has been extended for another year.

The Ministry of Northern Development and Mines’ Mining Supply and Service Export Assistance Program has two components: a strategic export marketing program that links participating companies with an export marketing advisor, and a marketing assistance fund that subsidizes marketing initiatives such as trade show attendance, translation of marketing materials and website development.

A total of 59 companies participated in the first phase of the strategic marketing program, and another 20 are expected to participate in the second phase, said program manager Scott Rennie. There were seven intakes during the two and a half years of the first phase, each accommodating between seven and nine companies.

Each engagement begins with an introductory meeting with one of the two consultants – Jon Baird, managing director of the Canadian Association of Mining Equipment and Services for Export (CAMESE), or Mel Sauvé, president of Global Growth.

The next step is a two-day meeting with the senior management team to look at all aspects of the company and what needs to happen to grow sales across Canada and in other mining jurisdictions.

Workshops

Several one-day workshops are also staged to zero in on specific subjects such as branding, sales force management, search engine optimization and working with agents.

“We also brought in a lawyer to talk about intellectual property and the Export Development Corporation to talk about their services,” said Rennie.

All of the companies participating in an intake attend the workshops, so there’s the opportunity for open discussion and idea sharing.

Each engagement lasts between four and six months, following which there’s a one-day wrap up with the consultant at which the company is asked to present a formal, written export marketing strategy.
Of the 59 companies participating in the first phase of the strategic export marketing program, 42 were from Sudbury, Timmins, North Bay and other northeastern Ontario communities, while 17 were from Thunder Bay.

The latter, including engineering firms, machining and fabrication shops and environmental service companies, were interested in exploring opportunities in the mining industry as an alternative to their historical dependence on the logging and pulp and paper sectors, which have been in decline for several years.

Financial subsidies totalling $750,000 helped 76 companies as part of the Export Marketing Assistance program. Among them were 40 Northern Ontario mining supply and service companies attending MINExpo 2012 in Las Vegas.

“Some of them spent more than $100,000 to participate in the show, and even smaller companies spent at least $30,000,” said Rennie.

Altogether, the $750,000 leveraged $2.1 million in export marketing activities during the two and a half years of the program’s first phase.

For 2014, companies that have already participated in the strategic export marketing program will be eligible for marketing subsidies of up to $5,000, while companies participating in the second phase of the program will be eligible for subsidies of up to $10,000, representing 50 per cent of eligible expenditures.

Funding

The extension of the program to the end of 2015 is being made possible by a $700,000 allocation from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation, and support from FedNor, the federal government’s economic development agency for Northern Ontario.

Feedback from companies participating in the first phase of the program was very positive, as demonstrated by the $18 million in operational investments they undertook as a result of their participation in the program, said Rennie.

“We’re doing another round of the program because we had very strong evidence that there are a lot more companies that could take advantage of it. We had some companies that wanted to participate in it in phase one, but couldn’t for one reason or another, so we hope to see them in phase two.”

An effort will also be made in upcoming intakes to include companies in Sault Ste. Marie and in smaller northwestern Ontario communities, including Dryden, Kenora and Red Lake.

Companies interested in participating in the strategic one-on-one export marketing program need to be based in Northern Ontario, have a product or service deemed to be exportable and at least $1 million in sales. Consulting services are available in both English and French.

http://investnorthernontario.com

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