President's Message

When we started with the initial help of the Ministry of Northern affairs in Thunder Bay in 1986 no one thought anyone would come. The idea of an awards program, particularly one that covered potential winners operating on a landmass larger than Europe seemed fanciful. It was. We have been gratified by the incredible support we have been given over the years across the North. More than 13,000 people have attended these awards programs with more than 300 winners celebrated.

The idea was pretty simple. Northerners are great business people but often had no idea how good they were. We are so far apart we often know more about our colleagues in Toronto or Montréal or Winnipeg than we do about our friends in the north. We contend with the ups and downs of commodity pricing, our distance from markets, the higher cost of energy and transportation and most importantly the challenge of building business clusters large enough to compete in world markets.

We are doing it. What is different now is that we know it.

Each year the night before our big dinner we bring our winners together to break some bread. The objective is to get to know one another before the big night and to celebrate our successes together. There are often similar stories whether our heroes are from our cities are smaller towns. The stories are uniformly awe inspiring.

One of the unique components of business in northern Ontario is how completely connected our entrepreneurs are to the communities they do business in. It is our belief at Northern Ontario Business that without locally owned private enterprise our communities would be much weaker. Much of what we do from pricing to innovation is dictated from major markets. Without locally owned business there would be no heart and soul much less the philanthropy and volunteer power to keep our communities vibrant and healthy.

There is nothing quite as gratifying as celebrating the best among us once a year from across the North. We share a landmass and an approach to life that is surprisingly similar wherever you may find yourself up here.

Thank you all for your continuing support of our program and particularly our sponsors and the city of Sault Ste. Marie for welcoming us back with open arms.

Congratulations to our winners who are helping to build Northern Ontario brick by brick. Also a special thanks to our amazing staff who manage to pull off this event each year without a hitch. We are like bumblebees. We are not supposed to be able to fly but every year we find a way.

Thank you


Michael Atkins

Michael Atkins
President, Northern Ontario Business