Monique F. Leroux visits the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal

Desjardins to strengthen its presence in Greater Montreal with $100 million in investments over the next three years

MONTREAL, April 22, 2014 /CNW Telbec/ - Speaking at the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal today, Monique F. Leroux, Chair of the Board, President and CEO of Desjardins Group, announced the organization's development plan for Greater Montreal, the first phase of which will include $100 million in investments over the next three years. "Our development plan shows we want to participate in the development of Montreal," she said. "Because like you, we believe in the importance of Montreal for a prosperous and entrepreneurial Quebec."

Under the plan, Desjardins is seeking to increase its membership by more than 200,000 new members and open 15 new points of service in Greater Montreal.

A big part of the plan is innovation. Desjardins wants to test out new business models, such as its new mobile shipping container-turned-kiosk, which it plans to use at major sponsorship events. It also wants to create special spaces for students, the first of which will open in the fall near Campus Montréal. These kinds of new business models will help Desjardins grow its presence in neighbourhoods where it had previously been operating under the radar, such as Centre-West Montreal and the West Island.

A more prosperous future for Quebec

In her speech, Ms. Leroux also announced the findings of a major study co-conducted by Desjardins Group's Economic Studies team and the Center for Interuniversity Research and Analysis of Organizations (CIRANO). Titled For a more entrepreneurial and prosperous Quebec, the study paints a picture of the challenges today's businesses face to grow, succeed, and contribute to Quebec's economy.

One of its findings is that Quebec isn't necessarily the most fertile ground for new businesses. "This is a trend that must be reversed," said Ms. Leroux. "By enhancing and supporting the creation of more companies, supporting their growth, and preparing for succession and wisely planning the transfer of ownership."

The study also found that Quebec isn't the strongest champion of productivity and innovation. Ms. Leroux's hope is that businesses can catch up by "investing further in technology and digital media and modernizing our facilities, and by investing above all in the development of our human resources. Because people form the core of every business."

While we count on government to create favourable conditions to help businesses get off the ground, grow and prosper, Ms. Leroux also believes that business owners have a role to play. "It is crucial to enhance the role of business. Entrepreneurs, corporate leaders and business people like ourselves have an important role to play in this respect."

Throughout her speech, Ms. Leroux cited a number of ways Desjardins Group has helped support business growth or ownership transfers for a wide range of businesses, big and small. Concrete examples include Desjardins' contributions to the Fondation de l'entrepreneurship, the Desjardins Entrepreneur Awards, venture capital funds, and solidarity-based financing programs like Créavenir, for young start-ups, and Desjardins Microcredit to Businesses. "At Desjardins, we are very proud to support innovative Montreal businesses," said Ms. Leroux. "Companies that have a worldwide perspective and reach out to develop new markets. Companies that train their personnel. Companies that invest to grow their production capacity."

Montreal: a world-class city

As a strong supporter of Montreal, having grown up in its Hochelaga-Maisonneuve neighbourhood, Ms. Leroux spoke affectionately about her hometown. "Every major city has its own distinctive appeal. Each becomes a landmark in our interconnected world. Montreal has many a great strengths on which to build its own power of attraction," said Ms. Leroux, adding that in addition to these strengths, "Montreal is still affordable, for students and residents alike."

She pointed to the recent election of a new government in Quebec, a new administration at Montreal city hall, and the business community's strong consensus that Montreal needs to act to create a prosperous Quebec. "We have a propitious opening before us to breathe new life into our city," said Ms. Leroux. "It's time to join forces and make Montreal a world-class city."

And that's where Desjardins Group hopes its Greater Montreal Development Plan will come in. Ms. Leroux reminded her audience of Desjardins's already strong presence in the city, where it serves 1.6 million members and 10,000 businesses and operates a network of 223 points of service and 7 Desjardins Business Centres, which generate a combined business volume of nearly $100 billion.

Ms. Leroux concluded her speech on a hopeful note: "2017 is fast approaching, the year we celebrate Montreal's 375th anniversary," she said. "My deepest wish is that we celebrate with the pride and self-assurance of a city reborn. The pride of a city in action. It's our time for action!"

About Desjardins Group

Desjardins Group is the leading cooperative financial group in Canada and the fifth largest in the world with assets of $212 billion. It has been rated one of Canada's top 100 employers by Mediacorp Canada. To meet the diverse needs of its members and clients, Desjardins offers a full range of products and services to individuals and businesses through its extensive distribution network, online platforms and subsidiaries across Canada. The group has one of the highest capital ratios and credit ratings in the industry. It is considered as the fourth safest and strongest bank in North America according to Global Finance magazine and Bloomberg News, respectively.

SOURCE: Desjardins Group

For further information:

(for journalists only):
André Chapleau
Media Relations
514-281-7229 or 1-866-866-7000, ext. 7229

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