Providers of expert solutions for economic development
By Rajitha Sivakumaran
With an unemployment rate that is higher than the national average, Quebec presently has 362,400 individuals in need of a job. However, in the municipalities of Terrebonne and Mascouche of Greater Montreal, one collective force is committed to increasing jobs through economic development and business strategy — the Centre local de développement économique des Moulins (CLDEM). Represented by experts in the field, this not-for-profit organization is a one-stop shop, serving both novice and established entrepreneurs, and members of the local community.
“CLDEM is dedicated to business attraction, business expansion and business start-up in Terrebonne and Mascouche in order to sustain investment and job creation,” Claude Robichaud, the Director General of CLDEM, said.
With a background in economy and management, Robichaud has been involved in coming up with economic development strategies for 25 years. He has served in his current position for over a decade, working with countless companies to promote investment and employment in the Les Moulins Regional County Municipality.
Terrebonne and Mascouche are home to a number of industries — primarily the manufacturing sectors of metal and plastic production, machinery and equipment, alongside the new and emerging sector of information technology. Being a manufacturing hub, the community is dominated by eight industrial parks which contain about 500 companies, providing approximately 12,000 jobs. This is the distinguishing feature of the area, Robichaud said.
Present projects are fuelling industrial growth and drawing in new business opportunities. Robichaud spoke of a brand new industrial park in Terrebonne — a staggering 30 to 35 million square feet in size with an expected inauguration in 2018. Robichaud described this as a major contribution to the infrastructure for the future. Mascouche will also remain a key location with a brand new business park at the crossroads of two highways with four million square feet of prime land ready to shovel as early as next year.
“We’re working very hard with our colleagues from the federal and provincial governments to make sure that we can provide the best technical and financial assistance to every new company that is establishing here,” Robichaud said.
CLDEM helps businesses and individuals in a number of ways. The annual job fair, held every February, has been running for the past 17 years with tremendous success. The fair showcases about 20 companies and attracts 2,000 visitors, effectively connecting employers with the most qualified people for jobs.
“We are the community that’s experiencing the fastest growth as far as jobs are concerned in the whole Greater Montreal area,” Robichaud said.
Workshops consist of training opportunities for business executives and their employees, where assistance is provided on a number of topics like marketing and human resources management. Due to the immense level of interest in information technology, CLDEM also assists businesses with IT integration to enhance efficiency and promote success.
“We always make sure that we can provide top-notch assistance,” Robichaud said.
Companies looking to implement themselves in the Terrebonne and Mascouche regions depend greatly upon the services offered by CLDEM. Support is given from the very beginning of the implementation process to the very end, ensuring a well-established enterprise.
Investment boom: Why Terrebonne and Mascouche are so appealing
The capability to hire qualified individuals and maintain a competent labour force remains to be the single largest challenge faced in the world of entrepreneurship. This is a main challenge for the whole of Quebec, Robichaud said. For the general populace, on the other hand, finding work with job security can be a difficult task, particularly in times of economic instability.
But the resolution is in hand and an investment boom is presently altering the employment-unemployment ratio in Greater Montreal. The seeds of entrepreneurship can easily be reaped in Terrebonne and Mascouche due to the many attractive qualities of the regions. Priced competitively, the industrial parks of the Les Moulins community serve as high quality sites for business expansion. Consequently, this allows for the growth of the labour force.
Robichaud cited statistical information to demonstrate the rapidity of this growth: in 1996, 20,000 jobs were provided by the companies that existed in the community, but by 2015, this number had more than doubled.
“We’re quite proud of such a substantial increase,” Robichaud said. “The good news is that we are also able to sustain such a pace for the future.”
Population is also on the rise. Presently home to 156,000 inhabitants, the population is expected to grow to 200,000 by 2030, making this one of the fastest growing communities in Quebec.
In terms of demographics, the area is an already thriving community, consisting of a large quantity of qualified workers. Among the local populace who travel to other communities for work, many would be delighted to find work within their own home base, Robichaud said. The companies Robichaud works with provide the solution for this by investing in local opportunities and hiring community members.
“The idea is to maintain the pace of development, making sure that more and more of our citizens will be able to work — to live in their communities and also to work in their communities,” Robichaud said.
In addition to a large workforce, easy accessibility via the highway, cheaper land costs and lower taxes make the region a very profitable spot for entrepreneurship. The Terrebonne and Mascouche regions also offer entrepreneurs an abundance of beautifully crafted spaces suited for industrial activities, in addition to commercial buildings and office units — these spaces can be as large as 150,000 square feet.
The advantageous location of Terrebonne and Mascouche offsets challenges brought forth by Canada’s dampened economy and continues to bring in start-ups and established businesses. Despite the oil crisis of 2014, 12 companies opened or expanded their corporate offices in these municipalities and 40 businesses began entrepreneurial operations in that same year. All of this was in addition to investments in residential and commercial projects.
Furthermore, the positive effect of the lower Canadian dollar is gradually being felt by the companies in Terrebonne and Mascouche, especially by the 75 companies who specialize in export.
“It’s going to be good for us,” Robichaud said. “We’re working with these companies in order to help them be more successful abroad.”
In the next couple of years, Robichaud’s goal is to continue increasing the employment rate and job availability. The efforts of the organization will continue to focus on ensuring the success of start-ups and promoting business attraction and expansion. There’s still room to expand, Robichaud said.
Maintaining community contentment is another important goal.
“Economic development and the quality of life — it’s not one against the other, but both working together,” Robichaud said.
Robichaud spoke of a balance between these two aspects, saying that inhabitants experience a high quality of life, reaping the benefits of economic development and enjoying the bountiful outdoor spaces preserved for recreation.
“Terrebonne and Mascouche are going to play a major role in the economy and development in the future,” Robichaud said.
For more information on CLDEM, visit www.cldem.com/en/.