SSM’s Chamber of Commerce wants a Music City Sault Ste. Marie

A local working group including the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce, Future Sault Ste. Marie, the Algoma Conservatory of Music, the SSM Local Immigration Partnership, the Downtown Association, the Water Tower Inn and the Algoma Fall Festival are hoping to put a spotlight on the community’s musical talent, music tourism, venues, hospitality services, production facilities, and encourage more economic opportunity around the music industry.

According to the Chamber, a vibrant music economy drives value for cities in several important ways: job creation, economic growth, tourism development, city brand building and artistic growth.

A strong music community has also been proven to attract other commercial investment, along with talented young workers who put a high value on quality of life, no matter their profession.

“When our Board, staff and community partners were introduced to this concept by Music Canada, and the pivotal role that chambers could have in creating an opportunity for growth for their businesses and communities, let’s just say we are all singing from the same song sheet,” says Rory Ring, CEO of the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce. “We are so pleased that Music Canada has partnered with us and shared their expertise in this area with the chamber network as a tried-and-tested economic development tool.”

This past March, London, Ontario hosted the Juno Awards and using Music City principles was instrumental in them securing the weeklong event that resulted in:

  • $11.8 economic activity in Ontario
  • $9.1 million in economic activity in London
  • 37,000 attended (21,000 individual attendees)
  • 3.4 billion Media impressions, boosting the city’s brand world wide

“Our lead team made up of Donna Hilsinger, Grieg Nori, Sean Halliday, Todd Fleet and Josh Ingram are dreaming big; we want to build a music opportunity with all of our stakeholders that may one day see the Junos here. We want a Music City Sault Ste. Marie that creates a music-based experience, from education, recording and space activation downtown, to putting heads in beds for hotels and bums in seats for venues,” says Ring.

On Oct. 17, the Sault Chamber has partnered with its sponsors, Music Canada, Destination Northern Ontario, Algoma University, the Community Development Corporation of Sault Ste. Marie & Area, Long & McQuade Musical Instruments and The Water Tower Inn to host a day of events, kicking off with ‘The Mastering of a Music City: Music City SSM’, a special luncheon event featuring key note addresses from singer / songwriter Carole Pope, Chris Campbell, director of culture & entertainment tourism with Tourism London, and David MacLachlan, executive director of Destination Northern Ontario.

Pope, Campbell and MacLachlan will then be joined in a panel discussion by local musician Sean Halliday of the Local Immigration Partnership and Asima Vezina, vice chancellor and president of Algoma University. Together, they will discuss the various economic, marketing and job opportunities driven by the music industry.

The luncheon is complimentary to attend for interested participants and community stakeholders, however space is limited and advance registration is required. Registration is available on the Chamber of Commerce website at

Later that day, between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m., there will be an industry night networking event to bring together everyone that has a background or interest in music or the local music industry. The event is free to attend and will be hosted by Greig Nori of Trebble Charger and will offer information and performances.

Some quick stats and facts on music’s contribution to the economy and why supporting and promoting local music can pay dividends:

Music tourism is big business in the U.K. According to the U.K. study Wish You Were Here: Music Tourism’s Contribution to the U.K. Economy, approximately £2.2 billion in direct and indirect spending was generated by 6.5 million music tourists across the U.K. in 2012, generating the equivalent of 24,251 jobs.
Live music companies in Ontario generated a total of 10,500 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs as a result of their direct activity, the activity of their suppliers and re-spending of labour income in the wider economy. The tourism activity generated by music festivals creates over 9,500 additional FTEs according to Music Canada’s Live Music Measures Up: An Economic Impact Analysis of Live Music in Ontario.

Music plays a role in attracting and retaining talent and investment in a city’s broader economy. The world’s top talent is highly mobile today. For many cities, putting their best foot forward to attract well-educated and talented young people is a major challenge in an environment of intense global competition. Music can be a big part of recruitment success.

Music is a strong social unifier. It builds bridges between cultures and languages, connecting people within a city, a region and across borders.

“London’s Music City strategy, a truly collaborative effort between all stakeholders, put this plan into action. It’s not an easy process, but the challenges help us evolve and recognize that fostering a Music City and advancing this sector is something that requires attention. This can be done through relentless advocacy, building industry relationships and measuring the impact music tourism has. Through those steps we can get the buy in it needs to move forward,” said Chris Campbell, Director of Culture & Entertainment Tourism, Tourism London.

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