Thunder Bay suppliers primed for achieving export readiness
More and more Thunder Bay suppliers are repositioning themselves to serve the mining industry as the region’s former industrial mainstay, the forestry sector, has fallen on hard times, said Sauvé.
Unlike the supplier cluster in northeastern Ontario, which boasts hundreds of well-established companies providing a myriad of products and services, Thunder Bay’s supplier base is largely represented by engineering firms, metal fabricators and exploration service companies.
Thunder Bay companies “were smart enough to figure out that the mining industry offered some opportunities and positioned themselves fairly quickly to capture business,” said Sauvé.
“I honestly thought that I was going to find companies that are not well-positioned or well managed, but it’s quite the opposite. The one thing that’s interesting about them is that they all have a niche and they’ve been reasonably successful in growing that part of their business.
Instead of targeting the northeastern Ontario mining market where they would face stiff competition from Sudbury, Timmins and North Bay suppliers, many of the Thunder Bay companies are focusing their attention on opportunities in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, said Sauvé.
Sixteen companies in northeastern Ontario have already taken part in the one-on-one export marketing program led by Jon Baird, managing director of the Canadian Association of Mining Equipment and Services for Export (CAMESE).
A third intake of companies in the northeast is currently underway.
The province’s $4 million export marketing assistance program for the mining supply and service sector in Northern Ontario also provides funding for export marketing initiatives, trade shows and incoming missions.
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