City bets ‘Hi-tech’ will be crucial to Laval’s post-pandemic recovery

‘Innovation and tech sectors are key,’ deputy mayor Ray Khalil tells Forum IN!

The City of Laval is wagering a portion of its current economic development budget that “hi-tech” will help propel the city’s commercial/industrial business base upward to new heights during the post-Covid pandemic recovery period.

To that end, Laval’s economic development partner, LavalInnov (a non-profit that works on the region’s behalf), held the Forum IN! last week at the Grand Hôtel Times Laval, a recently-opened accommodation venue that is in itself a promising sign that the city’s economic recovery is indeed underway.

While Mayor Stéphane Boyer was scheduled to kick off the morning event with an opening address, he was forced to bow out as he was in isolation while recovering from a bout of Covid.

Relaunching the economy

However, Ray Khalil, city councillor for Sainte-Dorothée and a senior member of the executive-committee, did say a few words to the more than 100 entrepreneurs and business people.

“In Laval we have our team for economic development, called Laval Économique, who are very present and active in helping the region’s businesses, the company owners, to excel in what they do,” Khalil, speaking as deputy-mayor, said in an interview with the Laval News.

“When the pandemic started, we had a forum which gathered together around 300 individuals who are involved in Laval’s economic development to work on what might be the best measures we could put in place,” Khalil added.

A speaker addresses the crowd of more than 100 business owners and entrepreneurs during LavalInnov’s Forum IN! last week.

The road to recovery

“And right before that, we had actually put out a post-pandemic recovery plan, and in that plan were different factors. And then we met with everybody to put in place what we and the community thought would be the best actions we could take to recover after the pandemic.”

According to Khalil, the city set aside around $20 million in total shortly after the dramatic onset of the Covid pandemic, with a view to getting an early start towards offsetting the economic damage that was sure to follow.

Pandemic won’t go away

At that time, before he was elected mayor, Stéphane Boyer oversaw economic development as vice-president of the executive-committee, and he has continued to focus on restoring the city’s economy, in spite of the pandemic’s stubborn refusal to disappear.

“So, now we’re at the point where, you know what, we’re putting everything into place while accompanying businesses and people,” said Khalil.

‘We’re putting everything into place while accompanying businesses and people’

“There’s going to be a lot of projects, as we have previously said, to help them out. And the idea is first to help our local businesses. Second, to be at the forefront of the post-pandemic recovery. And thirdly, also to attract more businesses to come and install themselves in Laval.”

The City of Laval’s deputy mayor, Sainte-Dorothée city councillor Ray Khalil, opened LavalInnov’s Forum IN! last week at the Grand Hôtel Times Laval at the Laval Centropolis. (Photo: Martin C. Barry, Newsfirst Multimedia)

Adapting to new reality

Khalil said the emphasis on hi-tech is meant as an encouragement for businesses to adapt themselves to the latest innovations in order to maximize their ability to compete in an ever-broadening market that increasingly is international.

“It’s technology that can bring companies to a whole new level,” he continued. “We are always trying to cultivate many different sectors of our economy. But in reality, the innovation and tech sectors are key and a priority in order to move forward during the post-pandemic recovery.”