When Winnipeg’s French Connection Brings in Businesses from France and Quebec
Ubisoft, Alt Hotel, Thermëa, Roquette. Each of these companies operates in French and has recently settled in and around the Manitoba capital. According to the President of The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce, the province’s bilingualism has been the driving force of this attraction.
Written by Gavin Boutroy
With information from Louis-Philippe LeBlanc
“For a French-speaking company in France or Africa, knowing that there is a community, here in Winnipeg, where they can come speak with business leaders in French is very welcoming,” explains the President of The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce, Loren Remillard.
He is referring to the workforce educated in French by the Université de Saint-Boniface.
Mr. Remillard believes that the World Trade Centre Winnipeg (WTC), a bilingual organization, plays a crucial role in establishing positive personal connections with potential investors.
“Having a French-speaking community, a bilingual World Trade Centre, is so important in developing this personal connection. When someone can make a linguistic and cultural connection with you, it provides a very solid foundation that then allows for business discussions,” he confirms.
“When we are speaking with businesses from around the world, from Asia to South America, creating that personal connection is one of the essential elements in order to start doing business together.” – Loren Remillard, President of The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce
In a tweet, Loren Remillard wrote that WTC Winnipeg is the city’s French Connection. It is the first officially bilingual WTC and its language of operation is French.
For President and CEO of WTC Winnipeg, Mariette Mulaire, bilingualism is an undeniable advantage for attracting investors and creating a sense of proximity.
“We know people, their culture, their artists, and their politicians. So, that connection between us makes them a little more interested [in Winnipeg].” – Mariette Mulaire, President and CEO, World Trade Centre Winnipeg
Four Major Investments
“When we look at the rest of the attraction to Winnipeg recently (…), in reality, the four main [investments] we are talking about all have one thing in common: they all started with the French Connection”, states Mariette Mulaire.
She mentions the company Ubisoft, created in France and well-known for its series Assassin’s Creed, which announced in April that it will be investing $35 million to open a studio in Manitoba’s capital.
Loren Remillard confirms that he highlighted the francophone community during discussions with Ubisoft.
He feels that, while the impact of French in Winnipeg and the World Trade Centre may not be measurable, there is undoubtedly a strong correlation between the presence of a bilingual community and the city’s ability to attract investors.
Mariette Mulaire explains that factors, such as infrastructural needs, tax incentives, and land availability also play an important role.
In January 2017, the French multinational company Roquette, announced an investment of over $400 million to build the world’s largest pea processing facility in Portage la Prairie, in southwestern Manitoba.
The Quebecois group Nordik Spa-Nature opened Thermëa nordic spa in Winnipeg in 2015.
Alt Hotel, by Groupe Germain Hotels, which was founded in Quebec in 1988, opened its doors in Winnipeg in 2015.