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Ten Reasons to Invest in Montreal

Ten Reasons to Invest in Montreal

Posted by Juan Gavasa on October 01, 2015

Montreal lives in constant balance between its splendorous past and a future to be defined. Without putting aside its valuable cultural and architectural heritage, the city known as “the beauty” has bet on reinventing itself in an effort to hold its position among the most influential cities in North America. Beyond the illustrious memories of the past, Montreal stands as an avant-garde technological city that works hard to become a “Smart City” and attracts talented students to its universities so as to be up to the specialized and changing market.

Montreal’s metropolitan area houses over four million people; a bilingual and cosmopolitan society that has preserved its European spirit as an identity sign that makes it be more attractive and authentic. The internationally-applauded quality of life in this city is an attribute appreciated by investors and entrepreneurs that choose it to develop new projects. Day by day, new startups are put on the map, related to cutting-edge technologies that are applied in the health sector, movies, entertainment, aerospace development or information and communication technologies. These sectors require high technical training and capacity of recycling and modernization, which precisely are the virtues that better define the 21st century Montreal.

1 Privileged Communications 

Montreal is one of the best-communicated cities in North America. It’s only 90 minutes away when flying from Boston, New York or Toronto. It’s the capital city of a vast metropolitan area where over 4 million people live and it generates a third of the Gross Domestic Product in the province of Quebec, the largest one in Canada. That privileged position has turned Montreal into a strategic communication center with three airports –two of which are international facilities –, and it features one of the most active ports in North America. It’s one of the main access ways in Canada for sea transportation; with annual traffic of over 28 million tons and a connection network linked to more than 100 countries. Montreal also provides one of the best public transportation services in North America, according to the American Public Transportation Association. Its subway network, with 68 stations and four lines, is one of the most efficient transportation systems in Canada.

2 A Competitive Metropolitan Area 

Montreal and Quebec have established aggressive policies in terms of taxes so as to encourage the creation of new companies, with special aim on the technological sector. Harout Chitilian, City Councilor, points out that Montreal “is going to invest over 18 billion CAD during the next 10 years in order to improve and develop new technological infrastructures”. Furthermore, on the fiscal map it ranks below the average level of its direct competitors. The metropolitan area known as Grand Montreal (where over 4 million people live), is the most competitive in terms of operational costs according to a ranking that includes the top twenty metropolitan areas of North America, such as Atlanta, Cleveland, Toronto, Dallas or Phoenix. If all the economic sectors are combined, these operational costs are 10 percent lower than the average due to the advantageous tax rates and tax credits.

Harout Chitilian is Montreal city councilor for the District of Bordeaux-Cartierville.

3 A Pro-Startup Tax Policy

Grand Montreal is the second area with lowest tax charge within the list of the twenty largest metropolitan areas of North America. This fact is mostly related to the tax incentive program that offer companies important advantages, such as refundable tax credits in sectors linked to electronic trade or multimedia production. As a result of these credits, entrepreneurs can recovery up to 30 percent of a worker’s annual wage, with a limit of 20,000 CAD. It’s important to highlight the helping actions targeting the both movie industry, of great significance in Montreal’s economy, and the aerospace one, which represents over 4 percent of the total investment that is annually received by the metropolitan area. The companies dedicated to Research and Development are given here the lowest tax charge in North America. According to Lidia Divry, Executive Director of Techno Montreal, the “cluster” that encompasses 4,700 companies related to information and communication technologies (IT), “our aim is working with companies interested in establishing their offices here and developing interesting projects. In the short term, we foresee the creation of 20 new companies that are going to generate over 200 jobs in that sector.”

Lidya Divry is Executive Director of Techno Montreal. Photo: Techno Montreal.

4 An Up-to-date and Diversified Economy

There are several factors that speak of Montreal’s strength as an investment destination: the diversification of its economy is one of them. Louise Thiboutot, Business Director with Montréal International, recalls that “the metropolitan area has based its growth in major scope sectors, such as technologies applied to health, aerospace, cultural or telecommunication sectors.” Another deciding factor, Harout Chitilian explains, is the fact that “big companies and small businesses or startups coexist in Montreal”. The last element is the University as a research promoting center: the synergies generated between both university work and labor market have facilitated the establishment of important companies that praise Montreal’s capacity to produce talent. Matei Paquin, Development Director with Moment Factory, a successful company that develops innovative projects of multimedia entertainment, clearly explains it: “Montreal is perfect for such technological companies as ours because there are many talent-producing universities and a multicultural society with different professional profiles that responds to labor market requirements.”

Louise Thiboutot is Director, Business Development at Montreal International, an organization dedicated to attract foreign investment to Greater Montreal. Photo Montreal International

5 Seven Strategic Clusters

The diversification of Montreal’s economy is expressed by the creation of seven “clusters” that encompass the main industries at the metropolitan area in order to work with a common development strategy and economic initiative. The companies included in these “clusters of excellence” total over 400,000 workers, which represents 20 percent of the area overall figure. This industrial power is strengthened by research projects, lines to support startups and spaces to debate on the economic future. The “clusters” are: Aero Montreal, Quebec Aerospace Cluster; Québec Film and Television Council; Ecotech Quebec, CargoM, Finance Montreal, Techno Montreal and Montreal In Vivo.

6 One of the Best Cities to Live on Earth

For a long time, Montreal has been included in the Top10 of the finest cities to live in. The city was been given prizes and recognitions due to its sustainable growth, the quality of public transportation, cultural and social life, richness of its cuisine and traditions and the value of its architectural heritage. In summertime, there is a world of people in the streets and most of its historic core becomes pedestrian area in an effort to facilitate the movement of citizens and visitors, a fact that prestigious travel magazine Lonely Planet took into account when ranking it third in the list of the best cities of the world in summertime. In 2011, The New York Times described Montreal as one of the 10 most enjoyable cities and the International Associations League positioned it on top of its list of the best North American cities to hold international events. In 2013 it was labeled best city of North America and number 11 worldwide to ride bicycle; UNESCO has classed it as “Design City” since 2006. Last but not least, housing prices are 20 percent lower than in Toronto or Vancouver, according to the Federal Office.

7 A Bilingual Society

Montreal’s Town Councilman, Harout Chitilian, strongly believes that the best way to define the city is by highlighting its profile of European city in North America: “we have the lifestyle, culture and gastronomy of Europe, but we think as North Americans when it comes to working and making business”. That duality, based on the deeply-rooted French influence, makes Montreal stand out among the rest of Canadian cities. That’s the opinion of Dennis Hoffman, vice-president of Framestore, a British movie company specialized in special effects that was has won several Oscar awards and opened offices in Montreal in 2013: “first we looked at Vancouver, but we finally came here because we were attracted by its European character, quality of life and bilingual characteristic”. 50 percent of the population speaks English and French (only 8 percent in Toronto), and over 20 percent fluently speaks a third language, so Montreal is Canada’s most bilingual and trilingual city.

Dennis Hoffman is Vice president of the movie studios Framestore; a British company that opened a location in Montreal in 2013. Photo:

8 A University and Cultured City

The evident multicultural and cosmopolitan characteristics of Montreal coexist, unlike the rest of Canadian cities, with a deeply-rooted European culture. The influence of these factors in university and labor spheres is crystal-clear: “Best Student Cities 2012” report described Montreal as the best city of Canada, second one in North America and tenth at world level. It has won the title of “university capital city of Canada” with over 40,000 graduates every year, 11 universities and several prestigious colleges. In terms of the labor market, Montreal ranks seventh in North America due to the concentration of high-tech jobs and it’s the leader in Canada with its research-aimed universities. 

9 Montreal is Canada’s Cultural Capital City

Montreal’ cultural life is one of the most dynamic and attractive in Canada. Mikäel Charpin,  the Luminous Pathway manager for the Quartier des Spectacles Partnership, a not-for-profit organization that actively contribute to the development and promotion of the cultural value of the Montreal entertainment district, underlines that the city “has the highest number of artists in Canada” and the city annually hosts 140 festivals related to different artistic expressions. Over the years, the musical and theater scene of the city has been the flagship of Canadian creations and several festivals, like the Jazz one, have permanent presence in the national cultural calendar. “Montreal is one of the North American cities where people spend most of their time in the streets, even in wintertime”, Charpin says. That element related to social habits, finds no rival in the rest of the country and sheds light on the importance of cultural cities in the city and the notable expense in the creation of new spaces for artistic expressions. Montreal is the home of Cirque du Soleil, probably the most popular Canadian company on the face of earth. 

Cirque du Soleil is the most famous Canadian entertainment company. It is the largest theatrical producer in the world. Based in Montreal and located in the inner-city area of Saint-Michel. Foto: Cirque du Soleil

10 Canada is a Country in Constant Growth

Canada has one of the greatest economies among the countries that make up the G20. Craig Wright, Chief Economist with the Royal Bank of Canada, expresses that “the Canadian bank system stands out as one of the strongest worldwide” and recalls that during the world financial crisis that began in 2008 “no Canadian bank or insurance company went bankrupt or needed help”. The country holds the second position on the Global Risk Indicator, which assesses the economic, commercial, external and political risk of 131 countries around the world. The main agencies of world classification, Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s, have given Canada their AAA credit rating during the crisis, which didn’t happen with the rest of the G7 member countries. According to The Economist Intelligence Unit, on its forecast report for 2013-2017, Canada is going to be the best country of the world to make business in the G7.

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