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Startup companies should choose North Bay says Tignanelli

'We see a lot of businesses thinking ‘how much can I save on my lease, when I can go and buy my own building in North Bay'

“Jobs of the Future” is a series focusing on career paths, local job opportunities, programs, and tales of success that highlight North Bay's diverse job market.   


Attracting business is a vital part of the economic success of any city. Economic Development Officer Marcus Tignanelli is one of North Bay’s newest members of that department and he shares that it's his role to find new investments.  

“There are folks in business retention and expansion, there are some who focus on immigration and migration or workforce development, but my role is looking outside of North Bay and how we can attract new business to the area and what are some of those supports that they would be looking for, and what would make North Bay a compatible city for prospective businesses?” 

The North Bay native says the goals for the Gateway City are to work within its budget, and know its limitations due to the size of the city.  

“Not all businesses are going to work in North Bay, we're not a huge computer Information Communication Technology Centre,” he says.  

“Right now, some of the sectors that we’re focused on are our Aerospace, Advanced Manufacturing and probably the most exciting one we saw recently Hut 8 announced the blockchain mining facility here in North Bay on the north highway.” 

Tignanelli says that could be the next thing that North Bay looks to become a niche in.  

“What those businesses want is an open and accessible city that they can work with to pilot their programs. I'm looking to attract startups and entry-level companies that are just starting to grow and the keys so far that I found is we have to find them before they do grow because it's a lot easier to get a business to lay its roots down in your city than it is to pick up and move 200 employees once you are already established.” 

Tignanelli says they also want to find companies that can provide jobs for the community and says another recent success story is GreenFirst Forest Products locating into the city's downtown core.  

“They are hiring for professional service jobs such as; legal services, accounts payable, all of that and they are leasing space in our downtown core,” he says.  

“That is at least 35 more people that are going to be working downtown daily and we have to look at what is that impact on the local businesses downtown? The restaurants and the shopping or the hair salons; it has a bigger impact and I think that those are the kinds of investments that we are chasing and that we love to see happening in our city.” 

Tignanelli says the long-term goal for North Bay is to continue bringing in these businesses to foster an ecosystem for people, in which they are confidently investing.   

“I think that keeps it simple and I think that it doesn't pigeonhole you into only doing Aerospace or only doing defense sector investments and I think we're there.” 

He adds, “We have great post-secondary institutions and we have great funding partners and so now at this point it’s really about getting North Bay out there. Canadore College’s iCamp, is a great way for us to leverage a company that might be looking to come here, whether they're specializing in battery manufacturing or whatever else, we have the team over at Canadore College to be able to partner with those businesses, so it's all coming back to networking and how can we assist the business in what they are trying to accomplish.” 

He points to a couple of recently released lists that name North Bay as a smart place to invest in.  

“For two years in a row, we have been named the fastest growing city by U-Haul.  Site selection naming us one of the top 20 investment cities in Canada, that was huge,” says Tignanelli.  

“The CEOs and the relocation teams of major companies go through these lists and they ask themselves ‘where should we invest in?’ And when they see North Bay here and there, that's when they start organically reaching out to us, I find those are often the best leads, when they've already shown an interest in North Bay and then we offer concierge service and an after-care program to make sure that we land those leads.”  

Tignanelli says the most important aspect of the job is relationship building.  

“Getting out there face-to-face and having that banter back and forth to really get to understand people and have a personal connection with them and they feel like North Bay would be a place they would want to invest in. I think one of the biggest aspects of the job is also getting people out here to see North Bay and have familiarization with the city.” 

He says while the COVID-19 pandemic may have put that on hold for a little while, it also afforded them another opportunity.  

The one thing with Covid, is that it shows the affordability of the northern communities versus southern Ontario,” he says.   

“We see a lot of businesses thinking ‘how much can I save on my lease, when I can go and buy my own building in North Bay, build my own building, my employees have a lower cost of living and overall it's a benefit to the corporation and to their employees.  I find that a lot of our leads are coming through organically in that sense.” 

Tignanelli says they are looking at different ways the city can utilize technology.  

“I think it's very rare in today's world where technology does not exist, or it is an idea that nobody has come up with.  It's who is smart enough to get the product to market and raise enough capital and use that capital effectively to market their product as the best and the most innovative of whatever technology they have.” 

The St. Joseph Scollard Hall graduate had previously served his community in the role of a city councilor before landing this job and he says he’s always had a passion for seeing the city grow.   

“I'm just so proud of North Bay and the biggest thing for me is to see North Bay succeed in being a place that people are confident to invest in,” he says.  

“We know that our natural death rate is exceeding the natural birth rate in North Bay, so if we don't go through immigration and migration our property values are going to go down, our businesses will lose money, and so for me, it is a great place to raise your family and as a community, we are competing for that against every other community, but I think as long as we, as a city, have a concise goal I think we’ll get there.” 

He adds “I think it has been going super well in terms of building up a network of individuals both in Canada and outside of Canada that are looking to relocate. The world right now is in flux and a lot of businesses are looking for safe places to invest their money, and Canada, whether you believe it or not, is one of the safest places to invest your money right now.” 

Tignanelli says for people who have prospects in working for their city, it comes down to having a passion for serving your community.  

“If you're serving a community in some role but you don't stay up late thinking about how you can do that better, then it probably isn’t the job for you,” he says.   

“I think you have to be super competitive and you have to look at it like it's a team sport. Along with my counterparts, we are competing with all the other communities to secure some investment and ultimately to help our city flourish over the others. I come with a competitive attitude every day and I think that's the number one thing you need for this job, as well as people skills. You have to be able to talk to people and be friendly and you also have to have a management style where you are able to follow a project from a little seed of an idea all the way through to the actual infrastructure in the ground.” 

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Matt Sookram

About the Author: Matt Sookram

Matthew Sookram is a Canadore College graduate. He has lived and worked in North Bay since 2009 covering different beats; everything from City Council to North Bay Battalion.
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