By Tracey Arial
Laval’s Mayor Marc Demers introduced his new economic development structure last week.
Led by new city employee Marc Tremblay, the team consolidates all the operations once handled by the local economic development organization (Centre local de développement or CLD), the regional elected officials body (CRE) and the para-municipal organization, Laval Technopole into the civil service.
“The mandate of this new team will be to simplify and accelerate business investment files in Laval, to efficiently support and encourage entrepreneurship, and to make everything easy for the business sector,” said Demers, as he introduced his new economic structure on June 18.
To lead the new team, Laval’s executive committee hired outsider Marc Tremblay. Tremblay has 25 years of private and community leadership, most recently with the Groupe Juste pour rire comedy festival and the Société du Palais des congrès de Montréal convention centre. He started his new post at the end of April, but he’s already identified his key mandate.
“Laval is determined to become the number two centre for growth in Quebec,” said Tremblay. “Our vision is to become the number two city in terms of gross national product, employment and overall number of companies.”
To make that happen, Tremblay plans to operate using a client relationship manager system.
“All potential clients will be taken care of by an account manager,” he said. “That person will identify all the requirements of the project to get it online. We will explain to our client what they have to go through to establish in the city and the client will not have to go through many different layers. We are going to proactively think about every step he’s going to go through and we’re going to collaborate with other services.”
Changing the civil service culture to make that happen will depend on getting the support of all the employees. How agreeable they’ll be when they’re positions are in flux is still to be seen. Tremblay says his intention is to ensure that full-time permanent employees of the three former economic entities be incorporated into the civil service, but that can only happen if enough people retire or finish out their contracts and leave.
In the meantime, Tremblay’s management team is focussing on restructuring the organization under five distinct economic clusters:
• Biotechnology and pharmacology;
• Information technology;
• Food and agriculture;
• Tourism and major attractions; and
• Service enterprises (insurance, finance, engineering).
The clusters are similar to those under which Laval Technopole functioned, although a sixth “industrial” cluster has been removed.
Tremblay says that he’s considering adding three additional clusters: aerospace, logistics and large retail centres with entertainment. The key to turning them into clusters instead of major sectors within the other clusters will be attracting large-scale anchor businesses to substantiate each cluster.
“I was the CEO of Six Flags Montreal and the Montreal Convention Centre, so there are many large scale tourism infrastructures that I have my eyes on,” he said. “I’m not saying that we are going to bring Universal Studios to Laval, but we can dream.”