“Helping entrepreneurs achieve their dreams while improving our residents’ quality of life, that’s our mission, says Nicolas Roy, Executive Director of PME MTL Ouest-de-l'Île. And that's been my passion for almost 25 years.”
Comprising 11 municipalities, the Ouest-de-l'Île territory is the city's largest. Yet it has some well-kept secrets. Did you know that there is a zoo there, farms, and several golf courses?
Pre-launch phase: a tradition of integrated economic development
The Ouest-de-l'Île territory has a long tradition of integrated economic development, since 1983. Its mission is to work for the good of the entire territory. Economic development became a local development centre (CLD) in the 1990s, while maintaining its role of supporting businesses and fostering the territory’s economic development.
The creation of PME MTL five years ago was a continuation of this trend, with all the benefits and positive spinoffs that the harmonization of services and programs has generated.
Taking into account the specificities of the territory, PME MTL Ouest-de-l'Île wanted to focus on three sectors in its economic development:
- Technology companies
- Innovative manufacturers
- Value-added distribution
Consolidation phase: recruitment needs
The territory has many multinationals, a high graduation rate and a low unemployment rate. PME MTL Ouest-de-l'Île has also helped firms with an international focus with their start-up, such as the Charge Hub company. Its app enables you to find the nearest public charging stations for your electric car and to pay directly from the platform to charge your car. Today, this business is growing in both Canada and the United States.
One of the challenges for this type of business is recruitment, and Québec has for many years been experiencing a real labour shortage in certain industries. It is particularly to meet this need that recruitment assistance has become an integral part of PME MTL’s services.
At PME MTL Ouest-de-l'Île, this is a much appreciated and highly sought-after service – even during the pandemic. The labour shortage problem has not gone away this year. There’s a lack of skills, especially in production, distribution and warehousing, which are positions in high demand on the Ouest-de-l'Île.
Maturity phase: business resilience during the pandemic
This brings a message of hope in a context of economic gloom. There are companies that are doing well and that are hiring. It was even a record year for some, especially in the food sector. PME MTL Ouest-de-l'Île has helped companies such as Cell Foods and Luda Foods, two food processing companies, with their employee recruitment.
"There are certainly heavily impacted sectors and closures, in our territory as everywhere else. I’m thinking in particular of restaurants, hotels, tourism and entertainment. But the economic diversity of the Ouest-de-l'Île shows that businesses there are very resilient and that many of them are weathering the crisis. Some have managed to adapt and rethink their business model, for example."
For instance, there is Avenue 77, a company in Lachine that specializes in graphic design and producing promotional material. With COVID-19, the firm developed a protective booth for schools and daycares to ensure that youngsters are protected in class, on their desk. It was a product created from scratch during the pandemic which it now distributes outside Québec.
Going forward: resilience that will form an integral part of the recovery
“Although everything is uncertain now, I prefer to be optimistic and see a positive future for the Ouest-de-l'Île. Thanks to the diversity of the territory and its economic sectors, as well as the quality of its entrepreneurs, I’m convinced that the historical resilience of the territory will persist going forward."
Two key components of the economic recovery will be the creation of new businesses to replace those that don’t make it through the crisis, and the good growth potential of certain companies which will reach a clientele left wanting by the crisis.
In all cases, PME MTL will be there to support these businesses.
Nicolas Roy is the Executive Director of PME MTL Ouest-de-l'Île. The service hub serves entrepreneurs in the cities of Beaconsfield, Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Dorval and Pointe-Claire, the towns of Baie-d’Urfé, Dorval Island, Kirkland, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue and Senneville and the Lachine, L’Île-Bizard-Sainte-Geneviève and Pierrefonds-Roxboro boroughs.