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Northern Ontario Exports Program notches its first decade helping companies hit new markets

The Northern Ontario Exports Program has been operating out of the City of Greater Sudbury for 10 years and has funded more than 500 projects thus far
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In the previous two years alone, the Northern Ontario Exports Program has helped fund 86 projects aimed at helping companies in the region market and export their products outside of Ontario.*

This included $1.23 million in funding during these two years, which was matched by company investments of $2.66 million.*

In Greater Sudbury alone, 46 projects have been approved to receive $674,050 in funding, which has been supported by $1.7 million in company investments. 

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

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

This funding has been part of the organization’s operations for the past couple of years as part of 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 Ontario’s North Economic Development Corporation members contributed a total of $130,000. 

The Northern Ontario Exports Program was created in 2012 in response to a recognition that the majority of firms in the mining supply and services sector were exclusively focused on customers in Northern Ontario.

“You can imagine the kinds of risks that come with that,” Myllynen said, adding that she and another staff member operate the program to help companies navigate bureaucracy and whatever other barriers they experience in their efforts to tap into markets outside of Ontario.

They started out focused on the mining supply and services sector, with subsequent phases refining the program and expanding it to include any business that might benefit from exporting.

“In a day, we might talk to someone who’s in advanced manufacturing developing very large pieces of equipment for the mining sector, or part of that new green wave – electric vehicles or energy efficiency,” Myllynen said. “The next conversation might be about maple syrup.”

Although the program operates out of the City of Greater Sudbury, they also assist companies in North Bay, Timmins, Sault Ste. Marie and Thunder Bay.

They’re another tool for the region’s economic development offices to draw from, Myllynen said, noting that they’re always on the lookout for companies that might benefit from their services. They offer up to 70 per cent of project costs for things such as export marketing, in-market business development, export-related training and strategic planning projects.

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

In addition to assisting individual businesses, the program is also funding the establishment of a Northern Ontario mining supply storefront in Elko, Nevada. It will provide space for three cohorts of 10 Northern Ontario companies and assist the companies to connect with opportunities in the Nevada mining market. 

The program is accepting applications for export marketing and business development projects on an ongoing basis, with more information available by clicking here.*

*Edits: This story has been updated to reflect accurate timelines.

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