The shoreline of the St. Lawrence River at low tide on a beautiful sunny day.

The Bas-Saint-Laurent region: A focus on the marine industry

A half-century of achievements

For 50 years now, the Government of Canada has been actively participating in regional economic development in Quebec. And for the past 20 years, it has been contributing to business growth and regional vitality as CED. To highlight this milestone, CED published regional profiles that underscore its role as a catalyst for regional development over the decades. 

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Through their coordination role, Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions (CED) and its precursors have, for decades, played a key part in the development of the Bas-Saint-Laurent region.

The Regional Strategic Initiatives (RSI) program is one of the most noteworthy of CED’s programs in terms of its long-term impact on the economy of Quebec. The objective of this program was to create a socio-economic environment conducive to the development and competitiveness of Quebec SMEs in the global economy.

The challenge was met: the RSI enabled the regions to build on their strengths in order to contribute to the growth of various niches of excellence throughout Quebec, such as the aluminum sector in the Saguenay, the mining industry in the Abitibi, optics-photonics in Quebec City and, of course, the Bas Saint-Laurent marine sector.

The development of the marine industry: the economy of the future

A kneeling welder electric arc welding a steel structure.Seeing all the potential of the RSI, CED’s Bas-Saint-Laurent Business Office would, starting in 1998, be one of the first players to become actively involved in the creation of a permanent coordination structure in the marine sciences sector.

The first concrete action took place a year later when the Technopole maritime du Québec (TMQ) was set up. The arrival of this new player was instrumental in the region’s economic development. In addition to its catalyst role in terms of the region’s economic development, the corporation also succeed in raising the profile of a number of research centres and SMEs on the international stage.

“CED’s support since the creation of the corporation has enabled the TMQ to establish roots in the community and develop its network, services and expertise, mentions Noémie Giguère, Director General of the TMQ. The TMQ has gone from a regional facilitation structure to a recognized leader at the provincial, national and international levels as a result of its activities that guide its sector’s positioning and development. The corporation is well established in Quebec’s marine economy landscape, and draws its strength from its network and partners—passionate stakeholders and organizations that are drivers of innovation.”

Quebec’s “blue Eldorado”

The Bas-Saint-Laurent region has always stood out in the marine sector because of its geographical position. On one hand, the difficult conditions in the St. Lawrence estuary provide research and testing environments that are unique to Canada. On the other hand, the estuary and the gulf are home to some of the richest and most diverse biological ecosystems in the world, hence the scientific community’s interest, for many years now, in studying this environment.
An aerial view of Rimouski.
The idea that emerged 20 years ago – that the economy of the Bas-Saint-Laurent region could be partially supported by marine sciences and technology – seemed like a bold dream. And yet, two decades later, it is clear that this innovative sector has a considerable impact around the world. A real synergy currently exists between the various players in this field, who share a common and complementary vision of marine development in the Bas-Saint-Laurent region . . . and in Quebec as a whole.

Photo credit: Société de promotion économique de Rimouski

Rimouski hosts the international BioMarine Business Convention
In October 2017, Rimouski hosted the international BioMarine Business Convention—a first in Quebec. The convention was attended by 300 participants from 18 countries, including approximately 250 marine sector companies. The economic impact of an event like this is considerable: the expected spinoffs are estimated at over $18 million.

“The staging of a major event such as the BioMarine Business Convention in our region made us realize the extent to which the Bas-Saint-Laurent has become a key player in the global marine sector, highlights Pierre Roberge, Regional Director of the Bas-Saint-Laurent Business Office. It is particularly striking to see the transformative impact that economic co-operation initiatives can have on the vitality of a region. And I am proud to note that CED was there at the very beginning, some 20 years ago now.”

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