June 30, 2011

Sport is good for the body and mind but it’s also good for the health of the community and local businesses. With this in mind, Venture Niagara, a Community Futures Development Corporation (CFDC), started up the Niagara Sport Commission.  Thanks to the great benefits to the local economy, Venture Niagara recently received the Community Economic Development (CED) Project Award for the Niagara Sport Commission at the Annual Conference of the Ontario Association of Community Futures Development Corporation in Niagara Falls.

Several years ago, Venture Niagara CFDC got a firsthand look at the economic impact of sport while working with the Welland Sports Tourism Alliance.  “We saw the success they were having in Welland with marrying the businesses to local sports events and we thought it would be a good idea to work with community partners to see how we could expand it on a regional basis,” says Venture Niagara General Manager Frank Rupcic.

The idea of the Niagara Sport Commission (NSC) was born with a twofold objective:  using the hosting of events to bring about economic impact to the Niagara region; and also to help people in the region become active in sport and thus, healthier.

Another element at the heart of the NSC is the regional focus.  Scott McRoberts, the Director of the Commission, says, “It makes sense here to have a regional perspective with the sport commission – given that you need to use facilities across the region and you need to have collaboration across the region.”

For this commission to succeed, trans-regional collaboration and teamwork proved paramount.  Thus, the NSC relied heavily upon the participation of the tourism industry.  “Bringing the tourism industry in of course is pretty exciting because we have a lot of product here and of course attractions and hotels are willing to participate because they stand to gain the most out of this project,” says Susan Morin of Venture Niagara.

Morin also explains that the NSC has either partnered with or has broadened eight new events for 2011, which are going to have an economic impact of more than $8.5 million across the region.

The NSC has focused greatly upon community development.  In fact, the Niagara region is one of the first in Canada to implement the SPARK program, which links daily physical activity with classroom work.

Another initiative that is having a huge impact is the Internship Program with the Sports Management Program at Brock University, which gives students the opportunity to intern in their field.

“We are really pleased to honour Venture Niagara for their part in the Niagara Sports Commission.  It’s an initiative that has truly involved their entire community,” says Diana Jedig, Executive Director of the Ontario Association of Community Futures Development Corporations.

Photo:  The Niagara Sports Commission received the CED Award.  Pictured here are Anne Guillemette, General Manager at the Best Western Hotel in Welland and Venture Niagara Board Member; Nancy Sutton, Conference Coordinator for Brock University; Sponsor Sharon Wilson; with Susan Morin, CED Manager; Frank Rupcic, General Manager; and  Dolores Fabiano, Chair, of Venture Niagara; and  Scott McRoberts, Director for the Niagara Sport Commission.


Niagara Sports