SUDBURY - A new look is in the works for a group that represents thousands of workers across northern Ontario.

The Sudbury and Area Mining Supply and Service Association (SAMSSA) announced at its annual general meeting on Wednesday that it’s going to be heading in a new direction in favour of a pan-northern approach.

“We released our new website so we’re very pleased with that, it has tremendous capacity and I think we’ll be able to leverage and support our members to help them grow their business and that’s really our mandate and what we’re all about,” said executive director Paul Bradette, the new man at the helm of SAMSSA.

Until now it’s been predominantly a Sudbury-based organization and officials thought the move to reach out to cities like North Bay, Timmins, Sault Ste. Marie and Thunder Bay was long overdue. It’ll also likely mean a name change is in the works.

“I think if we really want to have buy-in from northern Ontario I think we really have to be representative of that so that was part of our discussion,  how do we restructure, how do we rebrand and what does that name mean? And it needs to resonate with everyone in northern Ontario if they join the organization that they’re part of it,” said Bradette.

They’re still strategizing on the next steps and consulting with stakeholders on how to move forward with the brand.

The idea here is if they’re going to address some of the challenges currently facing the labour market, one unified voice is better than five.

“I think all our mandates align so if you look at the five cities, they want to support their companies to grow. We all want the northern economy to flourish so if we band together, we all roll in the same direction I think we can accomplish a significant amount more,” said Bradette.

SAMSSA currently has 168 members and their target is to reach 250 in the coming year.

“I mean associations are growing on global scales, in particular, if we just talk about the mining sector and we’re looking at our association networking with other associations and bringing what we produce right here in northern Ontario for the greater good of bringing these products,” said SAMSSA president Ricky Lemieux.

A trade mission is planned for Chile next month as they continue to strategize the next steps.

“By showing the rest of the world that we are unified and we show what the capacities are in northern Ontario – it just sets us above the rest,” said John Febbraro of Ontario North Economic Development Corporation.

The mining supply and services sector currently employs 23,000 northerners and generates $7 billion a year in revenue.