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Cargo Montreal creates ‘hub of expertise’

With the launch of Montreal’s Logistic and Transportation Metropolitan Cluster, which goes by the name “Cargo Montreal,” the city is looking to provide a common voice and vision among stakeholders and address the sometimes negative perception of transportation.

Cargo Montreal, launched at the tail end of 2012, is part of the city of Greater Montreal’s economic development strategy, and its mission is to “bring together the companies and other stakeholders in the logistic and freight transportation sector to enable planning and coordination of the sector’s development.”

Executive director Mathieu Charbonneau says Cargo Montreal has targeted several items of priority for 2013. These include taking advantage of opportunities for development that industry leaders have identified, promoting the role, position and contribution of the logistics sector to the city’s economy, improving access and transport flow for trucks in the Greater Montreal area, identifying key practices and technology and promoting their implementation, promoting harmonization and regulatory simplification, and spreading awareness of the human resource issues and their potential solutions.

Cargo Montreal’s activities are financially supported by the Ministère des Finances et de l’Économie (Quebec’s Ministry of Finance and the Economy), the Ministère du Conseil exécutif (MCE), (the Department of the Executive Council) and the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal (CMM, Montreal Metropolitan Community) and all of its members.

Charbonneau noted that there is no specific calculation of the value of the supply chain as it pertains to Montreal.

“We would like to do a study that would look at performance indicators and that would compare Montreal’s supply chain with others,” he said.

There’s a negative connotation to the transportation industry, even within the government, added Charbonneau, and among the goals of Cargo Montreal is to change this image, to demonstrate what the transportation and logistics sector brings to the economy, and what its relationship is to sustainable development.

“We want to show the positive aspects,” he said. “We want to get the message out that Montreal is a hub,” he said.

Greater Montréal enjoys a strategic position in North America: it is located within one-and-a-half hours by plane from other major economic centres such as Boston, New York and Toronto and is less than one hour by car from the Canada-US border.

Greater Montreal is known as a high-performing intermodal platform thanks to its transportation infrastructure network, which enables it to efficiently serve local, national and international markets, according to Cargo Montreal.

The involvement of academic institutions in the Cluster, specifically, the Interuniversity Research Centre on Enterprise Networks Logistics and Transportation (CIRRELT), and ESG, the School of Management at the University of Quebec in Montreal, will enable access to relevant research opportunities.

Cargo Montreal also has a close relationship with the Port of Montreal, the “heart” of the cargo system in the city, said Charbonneau.

“We are really lucky to have the support of Sylvie Vachon, the president and CEO of the Port of Montreal, as a chair on Cargo Montreal,” he said.

“This cluster is a true reflection of the collaboration among all partners in the transportation and logistics industry,” said Vachon. “We all share common concerns. By combining our efforts, we will come up with the most creative and effective means to strengthen the competiveness of the Greater Montreal region in this area.”

While each transport mode is still somewhat in its own silo, there has been considerable improvement in getting stakeholders’ collaboration, said Charbonneau.

The concept of a cluster, too, is taking on more and more prominence, and it’s something that “fits the bill” in bringing stakeholders together, as it’s a neutral setting, he said.

Next year, the cluster will also focus on innovation as one of its target pathways.

Looking ahead 10 years, Cargo Montreal’s vision is to make Greater Montreal a multimodal platform that is recognized and sought after for its operational and environmental performance, for its contribution to its business partners’ competitiveness, and to the economic development of both the region and the province of Quebec.

The board of directors, which was appointed in November, brings together several senior industry leaders in the logistic and cargo handling sector.

The Cargo Montreal name was inspired by the elements that identify the brand, including “intermodality, connectivity, cooperation and accessibility. CargoM for Montreal, but also for mobility, movement and merchandise.”

Charbonneau previously worked for the Association Quebecoise du transport et des routes (AQTR), Quebec’s road transportation association, where he was technical director, executive director of Transform, the AQTR’s training centre, assistant executive director and interim executive director.

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