The EDC said the Dec. 30 purchase, from the Searchmont Ski Association Inc. (SSAI), was required to ensure long-term sustainability of the facility. The SSAI, a not-for-profit corporation, will continue to operate the resort and is now leasing it from the EDC.
“Searchmont Resort is a vital community asset and destination tourism attraction,” said Don Mitchell, president and board chair of the EDC. “The resort’s operation provides a significant community, recreational and economic benefit for Sault Ste. Marie and area. This acquisition was necessary to help ensure it continues to operate on a sustainable basis and is able to provide these benefits in the future.”
Mitchell said the EDC’s ownership will likely be short-term. The EDC has formed a partnership with the SSAI and Destination North.
Destination North, a not-for-profit corporation with a mandate to act as a multi-purpose community economic development catalyst, is seeking to further develop a regional tourism and community attraction at the former St. Marys paper site.
The organization has partnered with the EDC and the ski association to support the marketing, promotion and administration of the newly restructured Searchmont Resort. The three groups are now working together to undertake required capital improvements to the facility and to prepare a development strategy and business plan that will include integrating the marketing and promotion of the resort with other local destination attractions and programming.
“We see Searchmont Resort as highly complementary and well aligned with our plans to develop a major destination tourist attraction and demand generator that embraces all of the community and surrounding area,” said Justus Veldman, a spokesperson for Destination North.
“It’s all part of our long-term goal of working with partners to create a variety of products and offerings that attract visitors and continue to improve the quality of life for area residents.”
Searchmont Resort has been in operation for more than 50 years and has an economic impact of an estimated $5.4 million to the Sault economy. It supports 80 jobs and attracts up to 45,000 skiers and snowboarders annually.