First meeting: Pontiac’s “swat” team hits the road running

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Allyson Beauregard

CAMPBELL’S BAY – Pontiac’s recently formed economic development “swat” team met for the first time at the MRC building, March 27. The group of about 40 included business representatives, more than a dozen government organizations, plus elected officials, including Pontiac MNA Andre Fortin and MRC Pontiac Warden Raymond Durocher.

Allyson Beauregard

CAMPBELL’S BAY – Pontiac’s recently formed economic development “swat” team met for the first time at the MRC building, March 27. The group of about 40 included business representatives, more than a dozen government organizations, plus elected officials, including Pontiac MNA Andre Fortin and MRC Pontiac Warden Raymond Durocher.
The goal of the team is to advance files more quickly, cutting through government red tape and over-regulation to foster economic development in the region.  According to Fortin, the first meeting was introductory and designed to lay out the ambitions and process of the “swat” team.
Files will continue to go to Investment Quebec or to the MRC Pontiac’s
economic development committee, and will then be directed to a sub-group of the team. These sub-groups are being formed now and will cover agriculture,
manufacturing, forestry, and other sectors. Members of the intervention team can also bring forward projects.
Mr. Fortin noted that most of the work will be done within the subgroups, where files will be analyzed and their needs assessed. “The larger group will function as a direction body for the smaller groups… we’ll discuss what’s working, what’s not, how things can be improved,” he said.
While the larger group meets roughly every month, the subgroups will meet more frequently. “We are only the second economic intervention team in Quebec [so there is a lot to learn]. For example, looking at the Lac St. Jean region, where the first group was created, they found the larger group was meeting too often and the
sub-groups not enough,” Fortin told the Journal.
Durocher, who has stressed many times his belief that the Pontiac is now in the “senior leagues” after the creation of the intervention team, said he is optimistic about the group’s ability to improve the local economy. Although a lot of work is still needed, he believes it is time well invested.
Lac St. Jean’s experience has been positive, attracting new investment, helping existing businesses expand, coming up with innovative solutions to difficulties, and speeding up the process of government investment.
In addition to setting up the subgroups, projects already in the works
are being redirected to them and the next steps identified.