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Sault EDC wins provincial award for saving local ski hill

Searchmont Retention Project receives top honours at EDCO conference
Searchmont Retention Award
City of Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Director Dan Hollingworth (centre) and City Travel and Tourism Manager Jennifer-King-Callon (left) accept the EDCO Award from Heather Lalonde, CEO of the Economic Developers Council of Ontario. (Photo supplied)

The Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation (EDC) took home a provincial award for saving a nearby ski hill from closure.

Searchmont Retention Project won the 2019 Economic Developers Council of Ontario (EDCO) Community Economic Development Award at EDCO’s annual conference in Toronto, Feb.6.

Located 48 kilometres north of the city, the Searchmont Resort is a favourite winter recreational venue among locals.

With its 700-foot height and 21 ski runs, Searchmont also attracts a wider regional crowd and fills hotel rooms in the city.

But the debt-ridden ski hill was in jeopardy of closing down in 2014 until the EDC stepped in to purchase the resort in December of that year. The goal was to maintain and operate the attraction until a buyer could be found.

In November 2018, the EDC sold the venue to Wisconsin Resorts for $2 million, an operator of four ski hills in Michigan and Wisconsin, and a subsidiary of JFK Investment Company LLC, a Detroit real estate development firm.

"Our Searchmont Retention Project would not have been possible without the support of many partners," said EDC President Terry Rainone in a news release.

“I would also like to thank our current and former board members and staff who worked tirelessly to ensure a positive outcome for this initiative, including Greg Punch, Frank O'Connor, Robert Reid, Karen Madigan and Dan Hollingsworth. With people working together, this project was a success. I thank everyone for their support and wish the new owner best of luck moving forward."