President's Message

A medicine show for the soul

We are lucky. Like a travelling medicine show from the 1800’s we move about the North annually between our largest cities and convene a celebration of the best people among us.

Of course, medicine shows are generally about promoting “magical elixirs” and entertainment. We have no acrobats, ventriloquists, exotic performers, dancers or magicians. Our stock and trade are people who create wealth, build community, take risks, plan projects, exploit markets, run out of money and start again. For us, this is magical.

We've been doing it for more than 30 years, and during that time more than 12,000 Northerners have taken the time to say thank you to these extraordinary people.

There has been a great deal of change since our first celebration in Thunder Bay 32 years ago. To begin with, we have been hammered by precipitous fluctuations in commodity pricing, gratuitous trade interruptions from our friends to the south, high energy costs, and the usual challenges of managing a massive jurisdiction with a modest number of people. The problem is scale. It just costs more to do business in Northern Ontario.

We are evolving from hewers of wood and drawers of water. More and more it is the technology and innovation of the resource sector at the core of our story. This has come about for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that resource companies have been investing in innovation. A major subset of their former employees are forming companies and providing solutions locally and exporting the result around the world.

One of our sister companies is a global mining publication that is read around the world, promoting and advertising the innovation from Northern Ontario. Hundreds of companies have started up, and they are sophisticated, ambitious, and competitive. They also rely less on the price of commodities. In fact, the lower the commodity prices, the more efficient primary resource companies must become. We are in the game.

That said, our population continues to be under pressure and the demographics can be discouraging.

It is this battle, this constant determination to remain relevant and maintain the power of our communities that makes it so special to live in Northern Ontario. We come together to celebrate this spirit.
We are delighted to return to North Bay this year. It is a beautiful city and one of the most diversified economies we have in Northern Ontario.

I'm no stranger to these parts as many years ago I was the proprietor of a weekly newspaper, North Bay Living. Today, we work closely with, one of the most successful local news sites in the Northern Ontario-owned Village Media expanding at breakneck speed across the country. Their head office is in Sault Ste. Marie.

The key to our future is courage, know-how, innovation, and risk-taking. If you're reading this, no doubt you agree. Thank you for coming. This is our world. For one night each year, we stop and celebrate it.

A special thank you to our events team: Lindsay, Kristina and Sharon. They are the best.

This evening is the elixir to fix all your ailments.

For more information about the 2018 Northern Ontario Business Awards, please contact event co-ordinator Kristina Garbuio at 705.673-5705, ext. 304.


Michael Atkins

Michael Atkins