As a life-long resident of Sault Ste. Marie who grew up in poverty, facing many different struggles along the way, Algoma U Alumnus Steven McCoy (BBA ‘14) understands the importance of giving back to his community through his dedicated volunteer work and award-winning business.
Steven is the founder, owner and operator of Gencity Consulting, a firm that focuses on business development and communications; specializing in speech writing and coaching, business management, marketing, communications, and negotiations, particularly with First Nations entities. Gencity has worked with communities and organizations such as Batchewana First Nation, Pic Mobert First Nation, the Robinson Huron Treaty Litigation Fund and the Ontario Regional Chief, Roseanne Archibald, who is now the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations.
Steven is currently the Chair of the Batchewana First Nation COVID-19 Response Committee, helping to develop and distribute marketing materials and messaging to the community on the vaccine and COVID-19 health and safety protocols. While working with the Ontario Regional Chief, Steven was responsible for writing and reviewing speeches, creating press releases for major news outlets, developing material for social media and providing strategic advice on all public relations matters.
This past June, Gencity Consulting received the Indigenous Business of the Year Award at the 2020 Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce Business Achievement Awards. This award recognizes an Indigenous-owned business that “has distinguished itself by fostering growth, innovation, marketing strategy and consumer excellence, while showing leadership and dedication to the preservation of culture, values and identity.”
How did Steven get into the consulting business? Before coming to Algoma University, Steven started his career in the customer service and hospitality sector with a desire to start a similar business of his own one day. Despite having graduated from the Sault College Hospitality program in 2008, he felt he had more to learn to achieve his goals. That’s when he decided to attend Algoma University, completing a Bachelor’s of Business Administration degree with a specialization in Marketing in 2014. Steven eventually began his career in consulting while still attending Algoma U as a student where one of his professors, Cathy Denomme, referred him to his first client who owned a small chain of restaurants in Northern Ontario.
Outside of his consulting work, Steven is an avid volunteer in the community of Sault Ste. Marie and the surrounding area. He currently sits on the Board of Directors with the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation and the Anishinaabe Business Professionals Association. For nine years, Steven sat as Director of the Brothers Big Sisters Association of Sault Ste. Marie, giving back to the association and programs that he utilized as a young boy growing up.
In addition, Steven sits on two committees appointed by the Sault Ste. Marie City Council, the Historic Sites Committee and the Christmas Lights Judging Committee. He is also acting VP of Public Relations for the Sault Ste. Marie Toastmasters Club 2648, where he promotes the benefits of joining Toastmasters and helps recruit members who want to work on their presentation and speech giving skills. Steven explained that he volunteers because he wants to give back to the community of Sault Ste. Marie which has helped him in many charitable ways through his life.
Steven believes that holding positions on these boards also provides opportunities to lead and participate in important discussions held within the community. For example, back in 2019 when Steven was on a business trip to Victoria B.C, he was very impressed by all the prominent displays of Indigenous artwork, memorials and totem poles across the downtown core that paid tribute to the local Indigenous cultures while tapping into the tourism industry by attracting overseas tourists who are extremely interested in Indigenous people in Canada and North America.
Upon reflecting back to his hometown, Steven realized there weren’t any major displays of Indigenous artwork or memorials anywhere in the Sault despite having one of the largest Indigenous populations per capita in Canada. Using his contacts made through his volunteer and community work, Steven created a Facebook post outlining his observations and tagged the mayor along with a few other city council members. A few short weeks later while attending a major conference at the GFL Centre, Mayor Christian Provenzano approached Steven to assure him the city had contracted a couple Indigenous artists to contribute to some murals that were being painted in the downtown area of the Sault.
“Networking and creating positive working relationships with all members of the community is key to building trust and developing influence,” shared McCoy. “When you put in the time and effort, the right people will see what you’re doing and they will want to be involved.”
Steven also uses his platform on social media to promote successful Indigenous business stories from across Canada through a brand he created called Indigenbiz, which he puts to good use on Facebook and LinkedIn.
“After I graduated from Algoma University, I noticed that most news stories about Indigenous people were always negative. Our people are either murdered, missing, or suffering. As a business student, I also noticed that many of our Indigenous people were anti-business because a handful of protesters always seem to get all the attention in the media. But there’s actually a lot of smart Indigenous people engaged in business development, who are successful in entrepreneurship and are quietly making a difference in their own lives and community. I wanted to provide a different view, a contrasting view to what I kept seeing in the media so I began searching out and sharing positive news stories about successful Indigenous people or communities involved in business and economic development.”
When asked if he had any advice for current students, Steven mentioned how important it is to get involved outside of the classroom. Whether it’s running for student council, going to the gym, organizing and volunteering at events, or even accessing help and assistance of student resources on campus like counselling services.
“The more you get involved, the stronger your support system will become, and the easier it will become to reach your goals!” emphasizes McCoy.
Congratulations on all your accomplishments, Steven! Thank you for being a great example of Algoma U Alumni doing amazing things in the community.