This series of articles is part of an ongoing effort by Statistics Canada to bring data to municipalities via its new Centre for Municipal and Local Data, following its established partnership with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. Check out the first three articles in the series:
“Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu is the 11th largest city in Quebec,” remarked Julie Lacoste, Economic Development Advisor. “My small team and I offer support services to businesses and help them through their start-up and development. Of course, Statistics Canada data are essential to our work, and, above all, to local entrepreneurs and those who wish to come establish themselves here.”
As a passionate ambassador of her region, Julie Lacoste has been in her role as advisor since 2016. She explained with enthusiasm that they also have the goal of strengthening commercial sectors by offering training to the business community and organizing events in collaboration with local partners. The region is divided into 13 commercial sectors made up of 1,700 businesses. Retail stores, restaurants, service organizations and professional offices are among the various establishments that bring colour to the city, and, in particular, the commercial area of Vieux-Saint-Jean.
“I have the job of selling the area, of enticing businesses to establish themselves here,” she explained. “And to sell the area, you have to know it. My understanding and knowledge of it depend on census data from Statistics Canada. I provide data and create documents for entrepreneurs who then use them to make business plans and to better understand the profile of our population.”
In addition to her clients in the business community, Julie Lacoste also provides support to city employees. For example, police and recreation services, to name just a few, receive a variety of data from her, including information on the immigrant population, people living with low income, or even seniors. “We map the population data and have a portrait of the city at a glance.”
Julie Lacoste and her team are always looking to improve their services to businesses, and therefore take training offered by Statistics Canada. “I have participated in online training and an in-person workshop in Montréal called Turning Statistics into Stories,” she recalled. “This course was very useful for me. In my work, I have to simplify statistics and make them approachable for the business community. The instructor always had concrete examples related to our different fields. The workshop is a must for all economic development professionals.”
The advisor herself offers training at professional centres, where teachers provide courses on starting a business. “I give a first perspective to clients who are starting up,” she explained. “I present the city, with the help of Statistics Canada data. It is always quite eye-opening for them. They are eager to have data that impact their project. Also, the quantity of available data surprises them!”
Julie Lacoste also highlights that Statistics Canada data are important for better understanding emerging trends, which is necessary for planning. “There are a lot of residents in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu who work in Montréal,” she said. “With the pandemic, telework has increased, which has repercussions on our office ecosystem. Will this continue? Using data, we can potentially create useful programs for our citizens. We are always looking to provide them with the best opportunities possible!”
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