President's Message

There was a time, more than 40 years ago, when Timmins was a part of my weekly business life. We used to print our weekly newspaper, Sudbury’s Northern Life, at Norweb Printing in Timmins.

The printers were fantastic. The challenge was Highway 144. It could get lonely out there.

Apart from communing with moose after dark at 100 kilometres with a couple of tons of newsprint in tow, it was the snow that bedeviled us.

One year we had to rent a small plane to fly up the highway to find our truck which was buried off the road just south of Gogama. It took 10 hours to dig it out and bring that paper home, just another day in the life of doing business in Northern Ontario.

That's why we started the Northern Ontario Business Awards 31 years ago. We did it to celebrate our shared values and the challenges of doing business up here.

Although technology and the internet has mitigated some of the distance tests we faced 30 years ago, it by no means overcomes the joy and the pain of making a living in the Great North. Not only do we contend with the distance from regional and domestic markets, the cost of energy, the cyclical nature of an economy still moved by commodity prices, the trial of capital formation outside of our major cities, the lack of scale with 750,000 people spread across a land mass the size of Europe, and political clout commensurate with 10 out of 122 provincial ridings.

That said, there's no better place to be.

We share an extraordinary landmass and a spirit of enterprise that runs from the Québec border to Manitoba.

The key to our event is to celebrate the best among us: the entrepreneurs who see past the challenges and take sustenance from the communities they serve.

In the last 30 years, we have celebrated more than 265 winners.

Each year we hold a private dinner for the winners so they can get to know one another and learn about each other’s stories. The next day, we invite business people from across the North to celebrate our heroes and show them our appreciation.

This year we are delighted to partner with the Northern Policy Institute (NPI), which in conjunction with our event, is holding its first “State of the North” conference to examine the North from the perspective of the economy, the environment, and key social indicators.

The idea is to give shape to the trends in a way that helps us understand ourselves better and think about what is important for the future. The theme this year is Northern Ontario's demographic shift.

This partnership builds on the economic conferences we used to develop ourselves many years ago in conjunction with our awards dinner.

We owe a lot to many for our success over the years and we thank all those people, sponsors, and friends who believe, as we do, that one of the most exciting parts of living in Northern Ontario is that we are all in it together. We can all have an impact on the sustainability and civility of our communities and it starts for us with a spirit of enterprise.

Congratulations to our winners and thank you to our supporters.

For more information about the 2017 Northern Ontario Business Awards, please contact event co-ordinator Corissa Miles at 705.673-5705, ext. 304.


Michael Atkins

Michael Atkins