Hello to you, dear members of the Chamber,
THERE IS HOPE! We recently marked the first anniversary of the start of the pandemic. This past year has really been exceptional. The aftermath of the pandemic is still affecting many of our members, their employees and Montrealers. We understand, and we share the burdens you are facing.
As an organization, our goal is to take measures to mitigate the effects of this immense pressure on our members and support them in overcoming the challenges that lie ahead. The Chamber has been with you from the beginning; to weather the storm and provide you with all the support it can offer. The Chamber will stand with you until the crisis ends and will always work actively to find solutions to your challenges.
After deploying a number of emergency measures, we are now looking to the future. We remain optimistic, united and confident because we know that things will get better sooner or later!
That is what motivated the Chamber to start the Relaunch MTL movement last fall. The Chamber's teams and partners, together with invited experts, spent several weeks leading forums to unveil 11 action plans, take stock of several strategic city sectors, and issue recommendations to guide the decision making of businesses and the different levels of government.
That first phase of Relaunch MTL culminated on February 5 with the release of the Mobilizing to Successfully Relaunch Montréal’s Economy Summary Plan and the unveiling of a declaration of six fundamental consensus principles that must shape the recovery. For us, there is no doubt that the recovery will revolve around the interests of our people. It will be resolutely inclusive and green. It will promote a strong local economy that is open to the world; it will help build the economy of the future, and its success will depend on the commitment of all. You can commit to the revival of our city by signing this declaration and reflecting its principles in your actions and decisions going forward.
I am very proud to tell you today that the colossal mobilization effort of Relaunch MTL has paid off. Thanks to the work of its teams, supported by its many partners and counting on the commitment of the three levels of government, the Chamber last week unveiled the "I love working downtown" project, with an $8.5 million budget from the Ministère de l'Économie et de l'Innovation du Québec. This four-part project will involve a range of measures to bring workers back to office towers, reallocate surplus office space, enhance the attractions of private and semi-private spaces for workers and visitors, and help strategic downtown sectors get back on the rails.
The Chamber has also received $1.13 million from the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund – Quebec of Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions to set up the Technical Assistance Centre of Montréal, a new service designed to support beleaguered SMEs and organizations on the Island of Montréal. The Centre will provide customized support to Montréal businesses affected by the crisis, and offer a range of technical support services to meet their needs.
The vast mobilization effort that is Relaunch MTL would never have been possible without the commitment of the clusters and sector associations that co-developed the forums with us, or the support of our sponsors. We would also like to acknowledge the commitment of our community, our members, and of the federal, provincial and municipal governments to the successful collective achievements to date, as well as the considerable efforts that will be needed in the future.
On behalf of myself and the board of directors of the Chamber, which I chair, I applaud the dedication of the Chamber's staff, under the leadership of its President and CEO, Michel Leblanc. We are all grateful for their hard work, dedication, creativity and passion.
I would like to thank you, dear members, for your confidence throughout the past year. There is still much to be done before activities resume fully and we regain the city’s pre-crisis momentum. We will continue to act as a catalyst for inspiring beneficial initiatives, to strengthen networking and the required support structures, to work with governments to boost business growth. We firmly believe that by working together, shoulder to shoulder, we can overcome the challenges we face today and build a stronger, more resilient economy.
Chairman of the Board of the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal