15 Years of the MercadOr prize highlights Quebec’s export market

By Lisa Baum

If we want Quebec to develop its international reach, it’s important to celebrate the exporting firms who are doing it right. This is the philosophy driving the MercadOr Prize which, now in its 15th year, has been championing the successes of export companies across the region.

In an interview with The Suburban, Véronique Proulx, spokesperson for the event commented “Quebec and Canada are such small markets that if we want local companies to succeed then they need to get out on the international level.” The prizes are awarded annually to the SMEs which have satisfied the selection criteria and demonstrated excellence in the field of exports.

Launched by the Quebec Finance Ministry in 1999, the event has recognised 186 companies since its inception, and this year will be awarding honours to companies across five categories in an event to be held in Laval on Sept. 24.

The Laval event has, for the last 12 years been promoted in conjunction with the Laurentides and Lanaudière events in order to create a wide reaching awareness of the winning firms. These events recognise the successes that Quebec enterprises have made in the international scene.

The past 15 years have shown an enormous shift in the challenges faced by Laval’s international firms.

As Miss Proulx claimed “ it is now a lot more challenging to export than it was 15 years ago.” She points to an exchange rate shift which has been damaging for the Canadian export market and maintains that companies who are now looking into exporting need to be more competitive than ever before.
There has also been movement in the strategies of firms, who, as a result of this have sought to diversify their export market and have begun to look further afield than the U.S. into emerging markets. In spite of the bumpy territory, the MercadOr prize has found that many of the companies which were honoured in the beginning years of the prize are still active on international markets.

Among the three regions, however, the story is not exactly the same. While firms in the Laurentides and Lanaudière have stayed true to their export trends and remain mostly wood and manufacturing exporters, Miss Proulx pointed out a major difference with Laval, commenting “We have noticed in Laval a shift away from more traditional exporting industries, and a rise in the number of firms in the IT and Service Industries.”

The MercadOr prizes are given not only to categories such as “Best New Exporter” but also addresses issues such as “Innovative HR Practices”. This highlights that the organisation is aware that the issues faced by exporting firms on the international scene are wide-ranging and multifaceted. The Laval Winners of the 15th MercadOr Prize will be announced in an award ceremony hosted by le Centre des affaires internationales de Laval Technopole Sept. 24.

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