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2017 business confidence survey: CEOs in the Quebec City region are optimistic and in expansion mode

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As part of an international outlook event (Perspectives internationales 2017), Carl Viel, President and CEO of Québec International, and Caroline Roy, Vice-President of Léger's Quebec City office, released the results of the annual business confidence survey of CEOs in the Greater Quebec City region (Conjoncture 2017). The results point to renewed economic optimism and confidence among business leaders. All indicators are up, including hiring plans, investment, sales growth and exports. Now into its seventh year, the survey was conducted between November 23 and December 19, 2016, with a total of 225 regional business leaders taking part.

2017-02-02_Conjoncture.jpgCompanies are confident about the economic outlook

According to the survey, 74% of CEOs feel optimistic about 2017 in their economic sector, up from 68% last year (this index has been on the rise for two consecutive years). Optimism is also up with respect to the regional economic outlook, as well as for Canada as a whole. However, the respondents see the US economic outlook as significantly less favourable than it was last year (the first drop in this index since 2012).

Expansion mode

In 2017, CEOs in Quebec City plan to invest, hire more workers and develop markets outside the region. They also anticipate sales growth compared to 2016.

  • Sales growth: 82% of respondents stated that they would be in a position to increase their sales, while 74% confirmed that their order books are as good (34%) if not better (40%) than one year ago. In 2016, only 68% of respondents were quite so optimistic.
  • Investment plans: 74% of respondents plan to invest in their companies in 2017. This indicator has been rising steadily since 2012. Nearly 55% plan to invest in R&D, up nine points from last year.
  • Exports: 57% of respondents indicated that they had recorded sales outside the region in 2016. This indicator has also been rising steadily since 2012, when only 33% of the companies surveyed had sales outside the region. As regards market diversification, 62% of the respondents intend to focus on this aspect, up from 52% in 2016.
  • Hiring plans: 66% of respondents intend to hire workers in 2017, up slightly from last year (64%). Hiring will be primarily aimed at supporting business growth (64%) and acquiring new expertise (44%).

Sources of concern: labour shortages and the US economic situation

Although all indicators are up, thus confirming the overall level of confidence and optimism among business leaders in the Quebec City region, a number of concerns remain. Once again this year, the issue of worker availability is a reality for the region, with 85% of respondents having experienced difficulty recruiting qualified people. Unsurprisingly, worker recruitment and retention were the respondents' primary concern.

In addition, the US economic situation and the prospect of protectionist measures were the second source of concern for local business leaders (28%), just behind worker availability (30%).

"These results confirm our forecasts in terms of the regional economy's growth prospects. Indeed, the local economy has expanded steadily for the past 25 years. All indicators are positive and we are pleased to note that local companies are investing to boost competitiveness and conquer new markets. Clearly, a number of concerns remain. Now more than ever, Quebec International and its partners are mobilizing to support local businesses so they can deal with these issues," said Mr. Viel.

About Québec International

Québec International contributes to regional economic development and promotes Quebec City's international standing. As the pre-eminent regional economic development agency, QI fosters business growth, supports key economic clusters and attracts talent and investment. For further information, please visit

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