Website | Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation
In 2016, the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation rebranded its small business division. From that, the Millworks ‐ Centre for Entrepreneurship was born. The division’s programs and staff moved into a new facility in a refurbished building at the former St. Marys Paper property. To help with branding the new facility, and to allow citizens to know what programs are offered there, a website was created.
Purpose of Project
Launched in 2017, the purpose of www.themillworks.ca is to provide users with an overview of the programs and services they can access at the facility. It’s designed with a fresh look and feel, along with an easy‐to‐ navigate style. Another goal of the website is to build off the overall Millworks brand. On that front, it’s designed with the same look and feel as other Millworks publications and communication pieces. The overall purpose of the website is to promote small business programs and services to increase the amount of citizens who start and grow small businesses in Sault Ste. Marie and the surrounding area.
Effectiveness / Meeting Objectives
The Millworks website has been very successful at attracting clients to use the facility and its programs. At the facility, the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation delivers the Starter Company Plus program, which provides training and access to capital for entrepreneurs. In 2017, a total of 26 firms were supported through this program and, in 2018 to date, another 90 businesses were assisted. This is a significant increase from previous years when the current Millworks website was not active. For example, in 2016, only 10 firms graduated from the Starter Company program. The Summer Company young entrepreneur program is also delivered at the Millworks. In 2017 and 2018, a total of 30 businesses were started through the program. As well, the Millworks facility also features a small business incubator. Thanks, in part, to the website, the incubator is currently at full capacity, with nine firms operating at the facility.
Challenges & Changes Made
Prior to launching the Millworks website, a challenge faced by the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation was providing information catered to small business clients within the general corporate web page. The organization’s main website features a ton of info geared towards all users and, as a result, was not easy to navigate for people only interested in small business support programs. By developing the separate Millworks website, this challenge was overcome. The results have been positive in terms of program uptake. Another challenge faced by the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation was to also make the Millworks website a gathering place for the small business community. The organization did this by adding a community events page to the website. Available at , the page features a detailed listing of all enterprise‐related events in the city. Not surprisingly, it’s one of the most visited pages on the website.
The Millworks website was built to target current and aspiring entrepreneurs in the small business sector. As such, the primary audience is folks looking to start or grow a business. With this reality in mind, the website is structured to quickly filter users to the information they require. Ultimately, the goal of the website is to provide information but to also get users to contact the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation to learn more and meet in‐person for a formal consultation. On this front, the results have been extremely positive. For example, in 2017, the organization delivered 950 consultations, compared to only 605 in 2016.