Sault Ste. Marie, or “The Soo”, as it’s often called, is home to a unique public/private entity called UP. It’s not the Upper Peninsula, as Michiganders might think; it’s the public brand for a project designed to position the Canadian Soo as one of the leading environments for the success of global lottery and gaming businesses.
“UP represents our initiative, designed to help lottery and gaming (L&G) business achieve better business success out of Sault Ste. Marie, Canada,” explained Kevin Hemsworth, Director of Marketing & Communications for UP.
The underlying intent is to create new, innovation-economy jobs, prosperity and economic sustainability in The Soo. The UP team strives to accomplish this mission by building on their existing, thriving cluster of lottery and gaming businesses to drive innovation and stronger business performance in the industry.
This translates as new divisions, new strategic alliances, new startups—all ultimately focused on new advances for the global lottery and gaming industry.
There are seven business verticals that UP seeks to attract: Retail Innovations, Regulatory & iGaming, Game Development, Player Intelligence, Responsible Gambling, Education and Training, and First Nations Gaming.
The Soo’s Advantages
The Soo’s secret sauce is summed UP in three words: location, incentives and talent. Sault Ste. Marie is robustly blessed with natural beauty, residing at the heart of the Great Lakes, just across the St. Mary’s River from sister city, Soo, Michigan. Canada is a highly attractive place for companies to establish themselves, given its safe communities, robust infrastructure, high quality education and healthcare. And, as the long-time headquarters of Ontario Lottery and Gaming, The Soo’s human resource pool is as stocked as Lake Superior.
Financially, UP is bolstered by government and private support for business expansion. The province is offering over C$2 million in funding opportunities that are not available outside of northern Ontario, and “there are research and development tax incentives and other provincial and federal funding programs that we can help our clients gain access to,” said Hemsworth.
Think of Sault Ste. Marie as Seattle with a great exchange rate, or Vancouver without the sky-high cost of living. Lottery and gaming companies such as Pollard Banknote, Canadian Bank Note, BMR, Insightworks and UMG eSports have all located in The Soo. If you want to do lottery and gaming business in Ontario, it seems like the thing to do.
Operating out of the Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre, the project is supported by a mix of public and private funding, including contributions from the city and the province, through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund.
“Our cluster serves lottery and gaming jurisdictions on five continents, including more than 15 countries,” asserts Hemsworth. “We do that with a workforce that accounts for 14% of Sault Ste. Marie’s knowledge economy.
UP has a simple proposition: They can help your lottery and gaming business to be better than your current state, better than your competition, and better than you have forecasted.
“Our project team features three business development people, one marketing and communications person, a talent management officer, and finally an Executive Lead who directs the team and engages with our stakeholders,” said Hemsworth. It’s a robust team with a very specific mandate, and they’re staffed specifically to help lottery and gaming companies succeed.
Being a public/private entity, UP has the unique ability to translate the needs of a corporation to government. They are a corporate Match.com—without the subscription fee—for the gaming industry. UP wants to talk to companies, entrepreneurs, and talented lottery and gaming professionals about the opportunities that present themselves in the industry now as well as in the future.
“After we have identified your needs, we can leverage our support network to give you access to all levels of government, funding partners, community liaisons, and other members of our cluster, so that you can begin to create your own network here,” said Hemsworth.
Talking to anyone who lives in The Soo leaves one inspired by the passion they feel for their home.
“We have a rich history in lottery and gaming and an incredible lifestyle, away from the high costs and stress of demanding city living. We want to bring our talent to bear to solve global industry problems as the lottery and gaming industry transforms,” said Hemsworth. “And there’s no risk,” he added. “We are a fully-funded agency designed to help lottery and gaming companies succeed here. We don’t charge for our services, so all a company has to lose by reaching out is a few minutes of their time. We believe the potential UPside is tremendous.”
You can find UP online at lotteryandgaming.com.