While various sectors of the economy are gradually reopening after lockdown, Saint-Hyacinthe Technopole and the MRC des Maskoutains have released their 2019 annual economic report for the region. Normally published in April, the report was postponed due to the pandemic, in particular to move the teams into direct business support.
André Barnabé, the executive director of Saint-Hyacinthe Technopole, explained, “We deemed it inappropriate to release data on our sound economic performance while many entrepreneurs were struggling for the very survival of their businesses. With the recovery underway, the moment is opportune to release report data because it somewhat outlines the foundations upon which our regional economic recovery can rely.”
Thus, Saint-Hyacinthe and its surrounding region experienced strong growth in 2019. Its industrial sector maintained an enviable level of investment; its business and professional service offer continued to expand; and the tourism economy, notably events and business meetings, unexpectedly surpassed anticipated growth.
$14.3 million in business investments
After three record-breaking years due to bustling activity in the highway sector and the opening of the new convention centre, business investment has returned to its average level of $14.3 million. A total of 291 new capital business projects were launched in 2019, including $2.5 million, or 20% of the annual sum, for new construction, with the remaining $12 million going to improvements.
Saint-Hyacinthe currently has 1,514 commercial business locations, including 1,088 retail businesses and 426 professional service offices and buildings. A total of 6.6-million square feet of commercial space is now available in the territory, with a 92% occupation rate.
Revival of the business tourism sector complete
Last year also marked the first year in which all the new hotel and reception infrastructure in Saint-Hyacinthe was available for large-scale business events. With results in line with those of the years before the former Hôtel des Seigneurs complex closed, we can confirm that the initiative to revive business tourism has been fully and successfully completed.
Over the past year, Saint-Hyacinthe has hosted 123 conventions and major events, a 42% increase compared to 2018. The substantial increase of events led to a rise in total direct spending in the business tourism sector, reaching $7.3 million.
The hotel sector also performed well, with a 56% average occupation rate, a slight increase over the previous year. While lower than the national average, it remains above the average for the Montérégie region for a sixth consecutive year.
Most significant net increase in manufacturing employment in 20 years
Last year also saw the completion of 126 industrial expansion projects and 7 start-up projects, which generated $172.5 million in investments in our economy. This represents the fourth consecutive increase in total annual industrial investments and an 8.5% increase over the previous year. This performance indicator also surpassed its 10-year average by 6%.
These results have enabled the local economy to register its most significant net increase in manufacturing employment in 20 years. In fact, Saint-Hyacinthe industries created no fewer than 628 new jobs in the 2019 financial year, boosting the number of workers in the processing sector to over 10,000, with the final total of 10,126. This is a record increase of 405 jobs, with the year’s downsizing considered.
$68 million in manufacturing investments in the MRC’s rural municipalities
Manufacturers in the 16 municipalities of the MRC des Maskoutains invested more than $68.2 million in 2019, a significant increase of $27 million over the previous year. A large portion of these investments was made in the municipalities of Saint-Pie ($30.8M), Saint-Damase ($13M), Saint-Valérien-de-Milton ($11.6M), Saint-Dominique ($5.8M) and Saint-Hugues ($3.8M). A total of 232 new factory jobs was created, for a net loss of 6 jobs when downsizing is factored in.
The MRC des Maskoutains, including Saint-Hyacinthe, thereby recorded a total of $240.7 million in industrial investments and a net creation of 399 jobs in 2019 in the manufacturing sector.
Meanwhile, there were 129 investment projects in the agricultural sector, totaling $35.6 million.
“2019 was a year of business investment and consolidation,” concluded Luc Messier, a financing advisor for the MRC des Maskoutains. “This indicates that businesses intend to pursue their growth in the municipalities where they are already located. For the MRC des Maskoutains, these are encouraging signs that help us plan the assistance we can offer them.”