Town of Montague
Town casts off gloomy economic news to attract new business, replace lost jobs
The true barometer of economic progress comes from businessmen and businesswomen. The real picture doesn’t necessarily come from government bureaucrats or politicians who will usually try and put a positive spin on things. If a business owner is willing to say on the record that things are picking up and the future looks promising, then there is reason to believe in an economic turnaround.
A business renaissance is indeed underway in the town of Montague, as outlined in a bullish economic outlook feature in Saturday’s Guardian. Job growth and new companies have arrived in the business hub of Kings County over the last two years. It’s a development that has elated other business owners, town fathers, politicians and ordinary citizens who are all benefitting from the good news.
It’s quite a turnaround from two or three years ago when it seemed the federal government was determined to turn Montague into a ghost town. The biggest loss came with the closure of the EI claims processing operation, the only such facility on the Island and more than 35 well-paying jobs were lost. Employees were given two options — move to other EI locations in the Maritimes or accept a severance package.
Also shut down was the important work being done at the Addictions Research Centre. Those job losses pushed the total to almost 70, along with a $4- million payroll — numbing figures for a small town.
Montague could easily have despaired. Instead, residents were determined the town still had a strong pulse and just needed a little push to turn the economy around in the right direction.
It certainly didn’t hurt that Innovation Minister Allen F. Roach is the local MLA. If anyone could make decisions to bolster Montague’s chances, it was Mr. Roach. Much of the recovery is the result of private enterprise investments with just enough government help to make it possible.
The town has always depended on businesses associated with farming and fishing but these newcomers to town are more diversified. Roach proudly notes that not only have the 70 lost jobs been replaced, but that number has doubled.
Downtown Montague is coming alive and there is a move afoot to turn Main Street into an arts and culture mecca.
Optimism has replaced gloom in Montague as the town’s economy heats up. It’s a good news story.
City not taking back seat
Montague isn’t the only P.E.I. municipality with a good news story to tell. A recent study by KPMG International named Charlottetown the best city for business costs in Canada when it comes to corporate services. For example, Invesco opened an office in the city in 2007, starting with 24 people — now there are 270 there.
KPMG also ranked Charlottetown as the lowest cost capital city in Canada and the fourth most cost-effective city studied in all of North America for overall business costs, measuring 26 key cost components. Those business costs include salary and wages, housing and cost of living.
Naturally, Mayor Clifford Lee is elated. The KPMG report provides further proof for the mayor’s long-held argument that Charlottetown is a solid city for business to invest in.
Mayor Lee is a savvy civic politician, well aware that being number one makes you a target for other contending cities. So the mayor will not rest on any laurels, vowing to continue to improve the business environment here and make the city even more attractive to potential investors.