14 May 2017
Sherbrooke Flagship Company SherWeb Is Expanding in Québec
Sherweb, the Sherbrooke-based cloud computing company, has the wind in its sails. As a matter of fact, it has been growing steadily in Québec, in Sherbrooke, and now in Longueuil, where it is opening another office. The $8 million investment will create some 200 new positions.
“We are growing at a frenzied pace. It’s a way of recreating quickly. The population pool is clearly bigger in the Montréal sector. Moving 200 people and their families to Sherbrooke is preposterous. The logical choice was to set up on the South Shore, an area we can reach quickly. Our Sherbrooke offices will continue to grow in parallel,” explained Mr. Guenette.
At Sherbrooke Innopole, the head of Business Services – Information Technology, Marc-Henri Faure, was not disappointed by the creation of 200 jobs in Longueuil rather than Sherbrooke: “SherWeb has grown as much as it could have in Sherbrooke. We did all we could to find the labour force it was looking for. It’s no surprise they hired elsewhere. Because of its lightning-fast growth, it was obvious that it would hit the wall as far as its workforce was concerned.”
SherWeb would probably not have been able to expand in Sherbrooke, where there is an insufficient labour force available. That’s the explanation offered by Samuel Guenette, Vice-President of Customer Care at SherWeb, for the 200 jobs created in Longueuil.
“To respond to demand, we need to be opportunistic and see all the options. We have a problem of supply and demand. In our premises in Sherbrooke, we have roughly a hundred free spots. We could have another hundred people working, but the resources aren’t there. We have no choice but to dip into other pools because the resources are not here.”
Samuel Guenette thinks that Sherbrooke needs to continue attracting new businesses and creating a climate that allows us to maintain expertise here. Slowly, the initiatives will snowball and the labour force could grow. “We have temporary offices on Roy Street. Soon we will look into relocating. All options are open and Wellington South is a possibility.”
In the long term, Sherbrooke Innopole and other organizations in the city of Sherbrooke are working hard to improve attraction and retention. “We are doing many things with the Ministère de l’Immigration, among others, to enable foreign student graduates of the Université de Sherbrooke to stay here. The recruitment problems in the field of information technology are across the globe. The classes are half-empty.”
An opinion that is shared by Director General Josée Fortin: “We have been at the forefront, but the pool is too small. We are not training enough people in IT. Champlain College tells us that they barely fill their places and they even have to cancel courses. It’s reverberating with employers here.”
Marc-Henri Faure is therefore working to increase the number of contacts between them and businesses. He is also attempting to attract young families by claiming that these are-well paid, quality jobs and that they are located in a community with a higher quality of life than in Montréal. “The labour pool is growing too slowly in relation to the need that is exploding all over the planet.”
Mayor Bernard Sévigny says he was not disappointed to see the Sherbrooke flagship grow. “They really have a short-term need. If it were the transfer of a business, it would be another thing, but it’s a rapidly growing company with vigorous health. There is indeed the issue of retention that we are working on.”
Mayor Sévigny added the issue of travel. “Trying to be facilitative, when there are no commercial services at the Sherbrooke airport, is like being a novice in short trousers. Companies like SherWeb travel all over the world. The airport would not have enabled us to create these 200 jobs in Sherbrooke, but it’s one of the tools we are working on towards the retention of graduates from Université de Sherbrooke.”
How do we create or attract such jobs in Sherbrooke? “We have to make room and be facilitative. That’s the strategy employed by Well inc. and Espace-inc. SherWeb started like that. When we invest in incubators, that’s exactly what we’re doing. On the short term, it confirms that what we are doing is the right thing. It’s certain that we can’t provide square footage on Wellington today, but we are working on tools. In the meantime, SherWeb will not stop growing.”
Sources: La Tribune and Sherbrooke Innopole
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