New era for downtown: Economic recovery through smart initiatives

On June 16, the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal broadcasted online the 15th edition of the Strategic Forum on Major Projects. Distinguished guests such as Mayor Valérie Plante, Minister Catherine McKenna and many others were on hand to discuss the issues surrounding recovery of the downtown area.

One of the panels, featuring Yves Lalumière, CEO of Tourisme Montréal, Laurence Vincent, President of Prével, and Josée Noiseux, Chair of the Board of Directors of the Palais des congrès de Montréal, introduced some crucial initiatives for the city's business community. The real estate and infrastructure projects arising from those initiatives are essential to optimize recovery, where "new reality" must be synonymous with "success."

In the next few paragraphs, we will reiterate the highlights of the plan the panel introduced, entitled "Dreaming the downtown of tomorrow," which clearly manifests the hope that it will ultimately rekindle Montréal's unique effervescence.

New reality, new face

We all know that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we do business, and not just downtown, but all around the world. The main stakeholders in Montréal's major projects, both private and public, must consider this new reality if they intended to build on a solid foundation. The city must now leverage its image by portraying itself in a new light, but without losing sight of its ideal image for tomorrow.

Of course, as Yves Lalumière mentioned, we need tourism incentives to bring in business, create jobs, support the local business community and make Montréal attractive abroad.

Josée Noiseux, Chair of the Board of Directors of the Palais des congrès, emphasized the relevance of resuming Palais activities promptly. According to her, this is a critical aspect for downtown recovery. "The Palais des congrès is a crucial economic engine that will bring back business tourism, which will translate into significant economic benefits," she said. The Palais has developed a new service offering and is ready to host conventions as early as fall 2021. A sanitary program called PROGRÈS as well as a new innovative hybrid offering including seven studios with immersive experiences have been launched. From the very beginning of the pandemic, Palais business development teams have worked tirelessly to postpone some twenty conventions and confirm nearly fifteen new conventions. They will be ready to host events when the time comes and be a key vector in the economic recovery.

Laurence Vincent is planning real estate projects for Montréal with urban accents that are consistent with the identity of the downtown area and inspired by best sustainable development practices. She believes that the downtown recovery needs to be rethought strategically, to optimize its potential for interaction with workers, residents and the business community. It quickly becomes clear that in the current projects, important consideration is given to promote both local and international business development.

Each panelist was able to answer fundamental questions not only for the Chamber and its members, but also for all business people, from near and far, who gravitate to the heart of our city.

Autor: Stéphanie Lepage, Marketing and Communications Director

Focusing on the effervescence of an ecosystem

The Strategic Forum also revealed a unanimous interest, among both public and private stakeholders, in infrastructure and real estate investments in the downtown area: the enhancement of its ecosystem.

As Ms. Noiseux from the Palais des congrès pointed out, the pandemic has led to promising collaborations between different organizations, such as the Quartier des spectacles, the Quartier de l'innovation, the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal and many others. This ecosystem, more vibrant than ever, is a crucial aspect of a mobilization that will generate immediate actions and results for the various downtown communities.

What we need to remember is that we too can remain optimistic about the opportunities that this essential business driver – downtown Montréal – has in store for us. We can put our trust in the agility and confidence demonstrated in forums such as the Strategic Forum on Major Projects. (Watch the recording here.)

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