21 March 2013
Future Looks Bright for Sherbrooke
PRESS RELEASE – In his speech to Sherbrooke’s business community, Pierre Bélanger, Sherbrooke Innopole’s Director General, summarized Sherbrooke Innopole’s economic-development activities since his arrival in 2009.
The city’s prospects are bright from an economic-development perspective, according to Bélanger, who stated that “we have a strategy based on five key sectors and everyone involved in our development share our vision. The key economic indicators have been green-lit since 2009, a trend that appears to be continuing in 2012.”
» Read the speech to Sherbrooke’s business community PDF (French)
The Director General also announced his resignation effective June 30, 2013 and expressed his satisfaction at fulfilling his mandate. “I can step down with a light heart,” he stated, “knowing that I leave my successor a house in good order: a sound economy, a fantastic team, and a collaborative environment diametrically opposed to the silo culture I encountered when I came to Sherbrooke.”
Bélanger summarized the key concrete results as “steadily increasing investment; significant population growth; a lower unemployment rate than the Quebec average; a net gain in job creation; substantial investment by our businesses in both research and development and machinery and equipment; and a higher annual economic-growth rate than the provincial average, ranking Sherbrooke among the best-performing large cities in Quebec. Last year, job creation in our key sectors showed a net gain of over 500 jobs while real-estate wealth increased significantly.” He concluded that “these are sound results.”
Bélanger went on to cite statistics for the work accomplished by his team, that he qualifies as “the best he has ever led.” In Bélanger’s words, “last year, the professionals at Sherbrooke Innopole dealt with 538 files, closing 130 of them. The effectiveness of Sherbrooke Innopole’s team members resulted in $62,157,699 in investments in 2012, protecting or creating 2,276 jobs.”
Bélanger also expressed satisfaction with the emergence of a strong entrepreneurial culture in Sherbrooke, and great pride in the rollout of the diversification fund for entrepreneurs.
While noting some of the challenges Sherbrooke faces, especially those of the airport, the availability of industrial land and the revitalization of the downtown core, he expressed confidence that solutions for them are underway.
He did, however, convey misgivings concerning the funding for universities and research in our region: “Since my arrival in Sherbrooke in 2009,” he pointed out, “I have done my utmost to create synergy among our entrepreneurs, our research centres, and our universities. The upper levels of government have made decisions that undermine the long-term survival of our efforts to transform the Sherbrooke economy into an economy for the 21st century. There is reason for concern. When will we grasp that universities and research centres are the DNA of our region and its community of innovators? That is the fabric of our future. We must do all we can to preserve the tenuous successes we have achieved together since my arrival. That is our responsibility to one and all.”
Lastly, Bélanger noted that he would be sorry to leave Sherbrooke: “I came here early in 2009 and became an adoptive Sherbrooker. More than four years later, my heart belongs to Sherbrooke and I will always remember this wonderful place, no longer a closely guarded secret, but a city marching confidently into a successful future.”
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