Real estate investment is newest endeavour for Sudbury’s Morris Group of Companies
When David Morris considered partnering on the $31-million purchase of the Victoria Inn Hotel & Convention Centre earlier this year, it was a little outside his wheelhouse.
Over the last two decades, Morris has made his name designing, constructing and selling modular buildings — offices, mine drys, washrooms, housing — not operating legacy accommodations like the Victoria Inn.
Built in 1974, the Thunder Bay establishment has long been a gathering place for Indigenous conferences and conventions, and serves as a premier facility for weddings, business meetings and tourism stays. A block of rooms is also set aside for Indigenous clients arriving in the city for medical appointments.
Michipicoten First Nation and Naicatchewenin First Nations saw the acquisition as an investment opportunity for the two communities and, together, put up all the capital for the purchase.
Impressed by their progressive approach, Morris signed on to the transaction, which he called “the first deal of its kind.” Morris Group of Companies became a general partner and the managing partner of the property.
“It’s really, to me, forward-thinking of First Nations business where the communities can work in not just, say, their territory or with a particular project, but look to expand their horizons and investments into other areas,” Morris said.
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In making this assessment about his new partners, Morris could easily be speaking about himself.
Originally trained in dentistry, Morris ventured into entrepreneurship in the mid-2000s and has continued to build a diverse portfolio of businesses under the Morris Group.
He launched his first venture, Morris Modular, with a partner in 2005, to rent modular trailers to companies needing extra space for offices, washrooms, or other