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Canada’s university capital benefits from a wide range of talent that allows its diverse economy to thrive. Montréal’s economic landscape entails numerous industries, some of which work in tandem to elevate the city’s status as a global powerhouse. Let’s explore some of the industries that make Montréal’s economy so robust.

Canada’s Aerospace Capital

Montréal is a key player in the global aerospace sector, with a strong focus on research, development, and manufacturing. In fact, 75% of Canadian aerospace R&D takes place in Greater Montréal.1

Montréal is renowned for its expertise in aircraft design, manufacturing, and maintenance, particularly in the fields of business and regional aviation. It is also a leading player in the development of cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence, advanced materials, and sustainable aviation solutions.

The industry is anchored by major companies like Bombardier, CAE, and Pratt & Whitney Canada, who are robustly contributing to the local economy and providing numerous high-tech jobs. Both public and private investment are significant.

Two other factors that make Montréal an attractive hub for the industry include the low cost of running a business relative to other major North American markets and the city’s strategic geographical position, which gives it direct access to nearly 80% of the global aerospace market.1

A rich ecosystem of research institutions and training centers provide an abundance of talent for the industry.1

Tech Sector Adding Jobs

The tech sector is another important component of Montréal’s economy. According to CBRE the city added 51,500 tech jobs between 2017 and 2022, second only to Toronto in terms of growth during that period.2

In addition to aerospace, Montréal’s tech sector includes artificial intelligence, video game development, biotechnology, and other industries.

Montréal’s AI scene, in particular, has gained international recognition, attracting major players like Google, Facebook, and Microsoft, and fostering innovative start-ups like Element AI.

Video game development also stands out, with companies like Ubisoft and Eidos Montréal contributing to the city’s reputation as a gaming epicenter.

In addition, Montréal is home to 400 cleantech companies3 who work towards Québec’s goal of being carbon neutral by 2050.

The city benefits from a talent pool nurtured by world-class universities and research institutions, including McGill University and the University of Montréal, and boasts 575,000 STEM workers at any given time.3

Diverse Range of Financial Institutions

While not as dominant as Toronto’s financial district, Montréal’s finance sector, too, plays a key role in Canada’s economic landscape.

The sector is characterized by a diverse range of financial institutions, including major banks like National Bank of Canada and Desjardins, asset management firms, and insurance companies.

Montréal also has a strong presence in fintech. Of Québec’s 226 (and counting) fintech companies, 77% are headquartered in Montréal.4

The city is home to notable financial industry events and conferences, further promoting its status as a financial center.

The sector benefits from Montréal’s bilingual workforce, a well-regarded educational system, and its strategic location as a bridge between North American and European markets.

Arts, Culture, and Entertainment Capital

Montréal’s vibrant arts, culture, and entertainment sector not only defines the city’s diverse identity, but contributes significantly to its economy.

The world’s fourth largest Francophone city5 is also known as ‘The City of 100 Festivals’. Included in these calendar-spanning events are the world-famous Montréal International Jazz Festival and the Just for Laughs comedy festival. Montréal is also renowned for its thriving music scene and contemporary and classic art.

Montréal’s Quartier des Spectacles cultural district supports 450 cultural businesses, 7,000 creative workers, and 85 institutional and cultural partners.6

Tourism Sector Rebounds Ahead of Schedule

This rich tapestry of arts and culture contributes to Montréal’s tourism sector, which is a major employer in the city. In mid-summer 2023, Tourisme Montréal reported that visitors to the city had rebounded to pre-pandemic levels, surprising those who had expected the recovery to take longer.7

While the US and France are primarily responsible for the industry’s success, a growing number of visitors are coming from the UK, Mexico, and Brazil.7

Montréal’s culinary scene is a major draw, with a diverse range of restaurants, cafes, and street food offerings that reflect its multicultural character. Visitors can also explore a wide variety of museums, shopping districts, and outdoor activities, including biking along the Lachine Canal.

Logistics and Transportation: Location, Location, Location

Montréal’s strategic location in Eastern Canada allows it to serve as a major transportation hub for Toronto and Central Canada, as well as the Midwestern and Northeastern United States.

The Port of Montréal is one of the largest inland ports in North America, facilitating international trade and commerce. Expansion is currently underway that will allow the port to handle growing capacity demands.

The city’s Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport supports both passenger and cargo traffic, further enhancing the city’s role in global logistics.

Cited Sources

1 “Aerospace: Montreal, Best City for Aerospace: Companies & Investments.” Montréal International, July 21, 2023.

2 “Toronto and Montréal Added the Most Tech Jobs in Canada in the Last Five Years: Report.” BetaKit, July 19, 2023.

3 “Inside Montréal’s Innovative Cleantech Industry.” Tourisme Montréal, August 31, 2023.

4 Montréal, Finance. “2023 Quebec Fintech Half-Yearly Report.” Finance Montréal 2023. Accessed November 9, 2023.

5 Hazan, Jeremy. “Montreal Is Now Ranked the #4 Largest French Speaking City in the World.” MTL Blog, September 7, 2016.

6 “Montréal.” World Cities Culture Forum. Accessed November 9, 2023., Tina. “Montreal Tourism Back to Pre-Pandemic Numbers, Summer’s Busiest Weekend Saw Record Numbers for Events.” CityNews Montreal, August 14, 2023.