Resource expo offers networking gold mine for attendees

Thunder Bay, Ont. — The second annual Canadian Trade-Ex Central Canada Resource Expo (CEN CAN Expo) returned to Thunder Bay this week filling the Fort William Gardens and Curling Club with more than 300 displays that spilled into the streets. The two-day event featured numerous presentations, conferences, demonstrations, networking opportunities, a trade show and a job fair. Representatives from mining, junior mining, forestry, construction and energy sectors, as well as northern communities, Indigenous and non-Indigenous organizations, academia, and the supply and service industries networked with each other to stimulate partnerships, connections and sales. Exhibitor Dave Siczkar, with Equipment World, says there are many companies which are their customers who are on-site participating at the expo. “This is great exposure for us,” he said. “A lot of customers that are here all work together to see the success of Northwestern Ontario in relation to the mining sector. This expo is very important to us.” Darwin Salo, the area manager for E.S. Fox Construction Ltd., added, “It’s all about meeting different vendors and contractors and building those relationships to carry them forward for upcoming projects.” Giovanni Sudano, a manager within the Windigo Community Development Corporation, described how they are an umbrella organization of a number of Indigenously owned companies. Sudano was on hand to share information on their Windigo Catering and Boreal Solutions companies, which have become an essential component to mining sites, particularly in northern communities. “The networking ability that we have here enables us to meet companies that are starting to grow and develop mines that are coming in, companies that support them as well as reaching individuals who are looking for jobs,” Sudano said.Justin Krywy, an estimator with Pioneer Construction, says they focus on site development, tailings management, as well as crushing and aggregate production. “Being at the expo definitely helps us get exposure to some local talent,” he said. “It also helps us network with other companies who may be able to use our services by gaining exposure to the market.” The expo proved to be a key networking medium for the Anishinabek Employment and Training Services (AETS) organization because that is essentially what they do — network. Stacey Morriseau, project co-ordinator with AETS, says being at this type of expo is really important in building relationships. “It’s great networking,” she said. “We provide training to members of our nine First Nations in the Robinson Superior trading area and we always like to network and build relationships with companies for our students to do placements and possibly get jobs.” As the hub of Northwestern Ontario’s mining and exploration sector, Thunder Bay plays a pivotal role in driving developments in the mining, energy and forestry sectors, being home to engineers, contractors, builders, suppliers, and branch offices, said Glenn Dredhart, president of Canadian Trade-Ex. According to the Northern Policy Institute Economic Profile for Thunder Bay, released this June, a review of seven key sectors found that “forestry directly added approximately $47 million to Thunder Bay’s GDP, while mining directly contributed $40 million.” “Thunder Bay is currently witnessing a remarkable era in mining for Northwestern Ontario, as it enters its most significant boom period ever,” Dredhart said. “. . . The arrival of Ring of Fire Metals, the region is now closer than ever to unlocking the potential of this vast, mineral-rich area while gold, platinum, and other precious metals remain essential pillars, with ongoing and new projects significantly contributing to the region’s economic growth.”

Sandi Krasowski, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chronicle-Journal