Another eight companies were signed up in November and are expected to complete the program in March. The end result, a written export strategy and marketing plan, equips participating companies to more effectively pursue sales opportunities in new markets.
“The feedback from companies that have completed the program is very positive,” said project manager Scott Rennie of the Ontario North Economic Development Corporation (ONEDC), a spinoff of Northern Ontario’s five municipal economic development agencies.
“They’ve had to take a hard look at their own businesses and how they’re positioned for exports. It has been a very eye opening experience for a lot of them.”
The one-on-one sessions with Baird examine a participating company’s capabilities and opportunities, articulate a vision and identify goals related to marketing, product mix, quality and human resources.
Follow-up workshops led by marketing professionals focus on branding, working with international sales representatives and distributors, maximizing the value of trade shows, sales force automation and working with Export Development Canada.
Two more intakes are planned, including one in Thunder Bay targeting suppliers in northwestern Ontario that is set to begin in Q1 2012, and another one in northeastern Ontario set for later in the year.
Rennie has already heard from several companies in the northwest that have traditionally focused more on the forestry sector, but have products and services that can also be applied to the mining industry. The application deadline for the Thunder Bay strategic planning program is January 31.
“The whole idea behind the program is to help build capacity,” said ONEDC chair Rick Evans, who also serves as manager of economic development for the City of North Bay. “A number of these companies didn’t have international marketing plans in place, so it’s really paying dividends.”
Companies participating in the first wave of the program were Rock-Tech, Trident Mining Systems, Temiskaming Industrial Mining Equipment, Bestech, Miller Technology, Walden Equipment, Nordic Mine Technology and Symboticware.
An export marketing assistance program administered by ONEDC is also being well received by mining suppliers. The program reimburses suppliers for 50 per cent of eligible export marketing expenses up to $10,000 per year.
As of mid-October, 26 applications totalling $250,000 were approved. Eligible expenses include trade show booth costs, airfare, a portion of accommodation and meals, and translation costs. Also eligible are costs associated with incoming missions hosted by Northern Ontario mining suppliers.
Applicants are able to submit two applications a year, each of which can cover two distinct projects.