Montréal Attracts Global Nonprofits

Magnificent view of the city and the Saint Lawrence River from the top of Mount Royal ©Eva Blue

On the bustling banks of the Saint Lawrence River in the heart of Quebec, Montréal is establishing itself as a headquarters for international organizations and nonprofits. As the largest bilingual metropolitan region on the continent, this French-Canadian city has a large, cosmopolitan population and is a hotbed of research and development. Home to four major universities and boasting a citywide mandate for public art against a backdrop of modern design and historic architecture, Montréal is the ideal city for globally connected nonprofits like NewCities Foundation to call home.

This international nonprofit — dedicated to urban-development work and improving the lives of city dwellers across the globe — recently relocated from Paris. According to founder John Rossant, NewCities Foundation was thrilled to have discovered a vibrant and innovative city in Montréal. A visiting delegation from Montréal International and the Université du Québec à Montréal initially approached the Foundation three and a half years ago, and Rossant and Tourisme Montréal then set to work on a mutually beneficial agreement that draws on this city’s progressive generation of politicians. “It’s been really terrific on many levels,” Rossant said.

“I had anticipated some complexities and complications with telling the team in Paris that they would have to go live in Montréal; however, this has been the easiest and best part of the whole exercise because the talent here is terrific, multilingual, and international — it’s as high as you’ll find in New York or Paris or London. The ease of working here is incredible.”

The Sculpture Garden, Montréal Museum of Fine Arts ©Michel Dubreuil

Even though NewCities Foundation operates across five continents and explores urbanization around the world, it has launched a series of Montréal roundtables with local stakeholders on issues related to the city itself, crowdsourcing ideas that keep the Foundation grounded in the local community. Tourisme Montréal has further encouraged collaboration between local NGOs and design stakeholders — like the innovative annual business event C2 Montréal — which Rossant called a “win-win.”

“We feel very at home in Canada. The diversity of Montréal is stunning,” he said. “Especially in this day and age where you have in the United States barriers starting to be raised and questions asked about immigration and diversity, Canada has a very different feel for us.”

Summer evenings on rue Saint-Paul in Old Montréal ©Stéphan Poulin

As the host city for the NewCities Summit every other year for the foreseeable future, Montréal — which was named the Intelligent Community Forum’s “Intelligent Community of the Year” for 2016 — feels the same way about its newest resident.

“The mission of the NewCities Foundation is to build a better future for cities, in a context where they become engines of sustainable, social economic development for our societies,” Mayor Denis Coderre said in an interview last year. “We are very proud to welcome the NewCities Foundation to Montréal.”

For more information about Tourisme Montréal, visit

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