Quebec City’s young professionals bullish about « old city »

Date 20/06/2016

Written byTaylor Ireland

If there’s one label automatically associated with Quebec City, it’s « old. » The « old city, » the « old port, »  la vieille capitale, and so on. Obviously, the city’s status as one of the longest surviving European-founded settlements in North America is a point of enormous local pride and the core asset for tourism promotion. Indeed, hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world visit Quebec City each year specifically because of its countless historic charms.

What is now old, though, was once new. It was the newness, the fresh opportunities, the limitless hope for a better life and prosperity, that drew people to the New World, to Nouvelle France, in the first place. Quebec City, for at least the first 250 years of colonization, was a major commercial and industrial capital for North America, a thriving hub for the hot commodities of the day, particularly lumber.

Today, as the city’s economy has undergone a swift and dramatic transformation from industrial to white collar to high-tech, there’s a new spirit of pioneering entrepreneurial energy, driven in large part by young business leaders. This is more than just a feeling. It’s a fact, borne out by research. La jeune chambre de commerce de Québec (JCCQ) – the Quebec City junior chamber of commerce – conducted a survey a few weeks ago that reveals a powerful sense of optimism about the future of the city.

The poll, by Leger Research, asked 430 young professionals 40-years or younger, 60 per cent men and 40 per cent women, about the city’s prospects. The most startling result was the level of enthusiasm for economic growth: 86 per cent believe the city will continue to develop and become more prosperous in the coming years.

Another finding speaks to the mounting personal confidence in young professionals: 86 per cent believe they can realize their full potential by staying within the Quebec City region. Being a relatively young man who has staked his claim in the city, I echo this sentiment. As they say, Ça bouge à Québec – Quebec is a happening place!

These sunny results don’t mean there aren’t challenges, of course. Those polled say the biggest obstacle to economic growth in the city is attracting and retaining workers, specialized or not. Not far behind that issue is bilingualism, finding people who are proficient in French and English.

Interestingly, when asked what should be the next big civic project now that the spectacular Videotron Centre is a reality, nearly 70 per cent pointed to a major transportation project, the most popular being a third link between Quebec City and Levis on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River.

With all this optimism being tracked by the JCCQ, the timing could not be better for it to host a very ambitious gathering. JCCQ, along with the Junior Chamber International of Canada, is organizing the largest business convention ever to be hosted in Quebec City – the JCI World Congress 2016. Organizers are confident the event will hit its target of 4,000 registrations.

The Congress is an unprecedented opportunity to showcase the city’s economic, social and cultural vitality, and demonstrate how the « old city » has really come of age as a key player on the international business stage. What’s more and quite rare: the Congress lasts nearly a full week (Oct. 30 – Nov. 4), allowing young business people from around the world a chance to take in more of the attractions of the city than the usual whirlwind stop, confined to a hotel.

But before the fall arrives – hey, summer just got here, finally – there’s no shortage of events celebrating the youthful vitality of the old city. Just around the corner (July 7-17), for example, is the summer music festival, Festival d’été (FEQ), featuring a spectacular concert site on the Plains of Abraham. The fest has become one of the hottest music tickets on the continent, largely because it’s such a great deal. It’s hard to top The Rolling Stones as last year’s headliners, but the line-up for this edition is still stellar, with head-spinning variety from Selena Gomez to Sting and Peter Gabriel.

Sure, it’s an old city, but Quebec is bursting with youthful events, energy and enthusiasm.

 

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