Northern Ontario Export Program enters first decade helping businesses break into new markets

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The Northern Ontario Export Program has operated out of the City of Greater Sudbury for 10 years and has funded 86 projects to date

In its first decade, the Northern Ontario Export Program helped fund 86 projects aimed at helping businesses in the region market and export their products outside of Ontario.

This included funding of $1.23 million, which was matched by company investments of $2.66 million.

In Greater Sudbury alone, 46 projects were approved to receive $674,050 in funding, which was backed by $1.7 million in company investments.

The program operates out of the City of Greater Sudbury under the auspices of the Northern Ontario Economic Development Corporation and receives funding from all three levels of government.

Last week, the province announced $3.5 million in funding for 13 projects in the Greater Sudbury area, including $1.6 million for the Northern Ontario Export Program.

This funding has been part of the organization’s operations for two years under its Phase 4, which was approved in 2020, program director Jenni Myllynen said. FedNor also provided $1.6 million for Phase 4 of the program, and members of the Northern Ontario Economic Development Corporation contributed a total of $130,000.

The Northern Ontario Export Program was created in 2012 in response to the recognition that the majority of companies in the mining supply and services industry focused exclusively on Northern Ontario customers.

“You can imagine the kinds of risks that come with that,” Myllynen said, adding that she and another staff member run the program to help companies navigate bureaucracy and overcome other hurdles they face in their efforts to access markets outside of Ontario.

They began by focusing on the mining supply and services sector, with later phases refining the program and expanding it to include any business that could benefit from exporting.

“In a day, we could be talking to someone who is in advanced manufacturing developing really big equipment for the mining sector, or some of this new green wave – electric vehicles or energy efficiency,” Myllynen said. “The next conversation may be about maple syrup.”

Although the program operates out of the City of Greater Sudbury, it also helps businesses in North Bay, Timmins, Sault Ste. Marie and Thunder Bay.

They are another tool for economic development offices in the region to draw on, Myllynen said, noting that they are always on the lookout for businesses that could benefit from their services. They offer up to 70% of project costs for things like export marketing, in-market business development, export-related training, and strategic planning projects.

Exporting products to overseas markets can be a complicated business, she said, pointing to jurisdictional requirements such as packaging, language and security requirements as potential hurdles.

In addition to helping individual businesses, the program also funds the establishment of a Northern Ontario mining supply store in Elko, Nevada. It will provide space for three cohorts of 10 Northern Ontario companies and help companies seize opportunities in the Nevada mining market.

The program is currently accepting applications for export marketing and business development projects that can be completed by March 31. More information is available by clicking here.

Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for Sudbury.com

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