Cowansville promotes industrial park for startups

By Ruby Irene Pratka – Local Journalism Initiative

The town of Cowansville is embarking on an online visibility campaign to attract new businesses to its industrial park and other vacant properties.

Business owners such as Christine Chénard, cofounder of Happy Yak, a manufacturer of freeze-dried food for campers and hikers, have been sharing their experiences in a series of YouTube videos. The town has also launched an interactive map with information about available vacant land; an inventory of industrial buildings available for rent will be added in the next few weeks, according to Fanny Poisson, communications director for the town.

“We have entrepreneurs and companies that are doing great things in Quebec and elsewhere, and we want people to know about them,” says Cowansville mayor Sylvie Beauregard. “The startup incubator was an important choice in their decision to move here. That’s what we want – to facilitate the emergence of new businesses.”

“We have the space to allow new construction, and we want to give visibility to the [buildings] that already have services,” Beauregard says. “There is space that’s ready, so why not use it?” Beauregard says the town’s location near Highway 10 and the U.S. border and the availability of land and property make it a logical choice for new businesses in a variety of sectors.

“Over the last few years we have developed a food sector, but we also have metal and wood [industries]; when we can have a few different sectors, that’s always a plus,” says the mayor. “In the past, there were a lot of wood processing companies, but a lot of those jobs moved to China, so we lost local jobs.”

Beauregard and her administration have bet on attracting startups to Cowansville to jump-start the local economy. The town’s industrial incubator, launched in 2018 in collaboration with the CLD Brome-Missisquoi, has reached its capacity. Now, the town is hoping to draw slightly more established companies with a focus on easy-to-acquire land. “When startups grow, they can build, and what we have to offer now is land,” says Beauregard. “We don’t have lots – we have unattributed land. If someone says they need 50,000 square feet, for example, we can do that.” She says financial assistance is available for out-of-town companies and new companies who meet certain criteria, such as finding a niche that does not compete directly with other local businesses.
Business owners who are interested in buying land in Cowansville should contact Marc-Antoine Dunlavey, director of land management and urban planning, at 450-263-0141.

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