Conversations in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan


KANAVA International, LLC is a cross-sector professional services company based in Arlington, Virginia, that celebrates the beginning of its fourth year of operations on April 9th. The focus of the company is economic development. We work on international development projects, as well as provide business-to-business services to domestic companies and non-profits that seek to strengthen their operations to expand their services and to enter new markets.

Last February, KANAVA opened a satellite office in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, where its founder, Susan Puska, grew up. This office provides opportunities to support our U.S. federal contracting and management capacity building services by creating local jobs in the area. KANAVA’s “Soo” office supports the company’s domestic and international operations, as well as, seeks ways to apply the company’s work and experiences to benefit local businesses and non-profits.

KANAVA’s mission is to “spur economic development by helping build sustainable organizations.” We believe that local economic vitality relies on community –  a strong mix of businesses and non profits working together to leverage great ideas into action.

We created KANAVA Conversations as a way for all area business owners, managers, non-profit directors, governmetal employees, economic development staff, and community members to gather monthly in the Soo to discuss topics of concern and common interests.

Topics held to date include “How to Increase Your Cash Flow When Everyone Seems Tapped Out?” and “How to be Seen on Social Media?” Those in attendance discuss their personal experiences, ideas that have worked for them, struggles they’ve encountered, and how they might collaborate in the future.

These lunch hour, brainstorming sessions, although led by KANAVA as a service to the community, are really conducted by the participants themselves. Jane Merrell, an independent business owner and regular attendee, commented, “It’s nice to see people coming together and talking about the issues that affect us all. We have a lot of talent, knowledge, and experience in this area; we need to share that with one another. I believe it will benefit the whole community.”

Although KANAVA Conversations is held in Sault Ste. Marie, participants from across the Eastern Upper Peninsula (EUP) attend.  Susan Puska, President of KANAVA International, comments, “People in the EUP have a lot of great ideas, and we want to provide a place for people to come together to share these, as well as provide relevant information based on KANAVA’s work. KANAVA Conversations provides the venue, and we’ve had very positive feedback (and increased attendance) on the sessions that we’ve held.”

If you would like to join us for our next KANAVA Conversation, contact Tina Thibault at the Sault Ste. Marie Regional Office at 906-440-6752 or tthibault[at]  Visit our Facebook page for upcoming events.

Kanava International