The solid, promising pillars of tomorrow’s economy

3 minutes

Yann Fortier

How, you might ask, is international investment doing in downtown Montreal these days? In one word: strong. So strong, in fact, that Montréal International President and CEO Stéphane Paquet is calling 2021 one of the best years on record. So we ask the question: what role will International investment play in helping us face the challenges of tomorrow?

Stéphane Paquet has said it before and he’ll say it again: “When we walk into a room with people who are undecided on where to invest, three out of five times, they end up choosing Montreal.”

As Paquet sees it, Montreal is more attractive than ever, specifically for “the proliferation of start-ups and the compelling local talent working in its growth sectors.”

In fact, in the last three years, Montréal International has contributed to creating over 12,000 jobs. “In Ville-Marie alone, that has translated to more than $3.2 billion in three years—from 2018 to 2020 inclusively.”

Stéphane Paquet, President and CEO of Montréal International

At the cutting edge of progress

By summer 2020, Paquet and his team had identified which sectors in Montreal—particularly downtown—were likely to stand out and attract investment capital in the years to come.

These sectors included high tech, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, video games, e-commerce, and health.

We’ve shone a spotlight on these cutting-edge industries by highlighting our local talent and assets, as well as our fantastic ability to attract international talent to the city.”

Cybersecurity-wise, GoSecureGenetec, Atos, and Secure OPS have set down roots in downtown Montreal, where their branch offices are able to better serve many Quebec-basedcompanies.

In addition to projects involving France, the United Kingdom and the United States (which holds the biggest share of international business ventures downtown), 38% of Montréal International-led Ville-Marie endeavours in 2021 hailed from Singapore, Mauritius, China, Germany, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Turkey, Lebanon, Spain, and Israel. That’s a highly promising diversification strategy.

Downtown: an economic engine on a mission

Paquet has his ear to the ground and reports that Montreal is looking really good right now. “Whenever we’re in Paris, London, and Seoul, the people we talk to think of Montreal as the full package.”

Downtown Montreal has proven to be a dynamic economic and social engine for Quebec. “The pandemic has demonstrated that our main growth sectors are still quite active,” says Paquet. In contrast, the surrounding areas often require further investment.

Looking ahead to 2030

Citing the collaborations between gaming and transportation as an example, Montréal International’s CEO highlights how intersecting sectors show economic promise. For example, pairing AI with health, the latter of which sits on an impressive amount of data.

For Paquet, the next decade will also be all about the already fruitful synergies between research centres, universities and businesses that are all powered by innovation and digitization.

A future goldmine

When asked to rank the things that make a city attractiveto investors, Paquet immediately answers: “For me, the top spot goes to talent. Since my arrival at Montréal International in 2015, we’ve seen the competition for the world’s best minds accelerate. That’s where we need to invest now and in the future. Think universities, colleges, and professional schools.”

As of September 30, 2021, Montréal International has supported 34 expansion projects and subsidiary relocations in Ville-Marie alone, leading to the creation of 3,271 jobs. In all of 2020, the organization took part in 47 projects in the borough, which in turn created 5,183 jobs.