Any economic development initiative created in Sault Ste. Marie should include some form of plan that includes the steel industry, but the others cannot be forgotten.
Tom Dodds, CEO of the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corp. said the steelmaker is still the most important employer in Sault Ste. Marie and the most important local Gross Domestic Product producer (GDP).
Dodds believes the future of the steelmaker lies in developing its products with a focus on advance manufacturing and value-added products that can help offset the cyclical nature of the steel industry.
Coupled with the development of the Port of Algoma and the push to reduce carbon footprints, Essar Steel Algoma is in the right place to diversify within its own industry.
As well, the steelmaker – or any other resource industry – can’t be ignored or forgotten because other statistics don’t bode well for Sault Ste. Marie. There are no statistical indicators that show Sault Ste. Marie is growing. In fact, Statistics Canada data shows the city has an aging demographics and more people are leaving the workforce.
Essar Steel Algoma, the second largest steel producer in Canada, has the capacity to produce 4 million tons of steel per year.
But the markets that the integrated steelmaker sells its product to are not within close proximity of the steel plant itself and a local or regional service centre would help the diversification for the plant itself, Dodds said.
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