Michel Guitard CBDC

How do you bring the right people together constructively around sustainable solutions? Michel Guitard, Executive Director of CBDC Restigouche in New Brunswick, is certainly no ordinary leader. And his profile is sure to surprise you.

Before we reveal exactly who Michel is, let’s take a look at what makes CBDC Restigouche stand out from the rest of the Atlantic and even the country. Last fiscal year, $7.3 million was disbursed through regular loan programs, and staff are currently managing over 300 loans. What’s more, with its range of business and community products and services, this CBDC generates nearly 150 jobs, including some 50 employees who are directly linked to their payroll system. With a total population of 31,000, how can New Brunswick’s northernmost region showcase such impressive results?

Let’s get back to Michel. Please don’t think that CBDC Restigouche is the work of just one person. “Successful collaboration solves present and future challenges. It’s the new form of leadership, meaning that how decisions are made matters as much as what we decide together,” says

Michel. “When we look back, as for most of New Brunswick, managing economic slowdown has been a daunting challenge over several decades, but there is fortunately a brighter horizon ahead.”

In recent years, this resource region often associated with forestry has seen the departure of several large companies, creating a major economic imbalance. Now, a much stronger economy is being built around small businesses. Knowing that traditional financial institutions are increasingly reluctant to support many projects, Michel won’t mince his words: “CBDC Restigouche can confirm that these locally created businesses are entirely viable and bring great wealth for an entire population.”

Anyone who doubts the ability of New Brunswick’s rural communities to get back on their feet would be well advised. “Revitalizing our regions won’t happen overnight, and we’re well aware of the efforts required. The Local Governance Reform, with the creation of Regional Service Commissions, will enable us to better engage people with our strengths. Welcoming newcomers, addressing housing issues, and revising zoning to the current context are all examples of actions for which the community has joined together to find the best solutions,” says Michel, who insists on focusing on the future and the positive.

If the forestry industry is still important, it’s because it has managed to reinvent itself with smaller business projects. Last year, $1.5 million was disbursed for smaller-scale projects that generate quality jobs in the industry. The booming maple syrup industry is also diversifying the region’s development with New Brunswick entrepreneurs. With its small business loan service alone, CBDC Restigouche hit a new record last year, creating and maintaining 362 jobs in Greater Restigouche. The impact of entrepreneurship on employability is an indisputable fact for the development of rural communities.

Dealing with regional decline certainly requires a new kind of leadership. CBDC Restigouche is creating bonds with a large number of organizations both in New Brunswick and across Canada. Recently, a CBDC team was dispatched to Manitoba and Alberta without Michel himself being present. Similarly, a team has been set up to develop expertise in submitting proposals to the federal government to host national projects. As one of the most bilingual regions in the province, Restigouche’s strong social cohesion makes it a highly promising region in the country. This diversity is also strengthened by the inclusion of a dedicated seat for the Ugpi’Gnjig (Eel River Bar) First Nation on the CBDC Restigouche Board of Directors.

“Change is palpable, and I’m certainly not alone in observing it. We have modern leadership, and a will to succeed that no one can take away from us,” proudly declares Michel Guitard.

“Successful collaboration solves present and future challenges. It’s the new form of leadership ...” 


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