Commercial Development Corporations, Espace Stratégies

Commercial Development Corporations


A Commercial Development Corporation (CDC) is primarily an association of merchants and business individuals located on a street or within a defined geographical area. Its main mission is:

  • To liven up the community
  • To support merchants in their activities
  • To advocate for the interests of its members
  • To organize promotional events and enhance the territory

It is an initiative established by and for the community.

This model, developed in Quebec, is unique and has few equivalents worldwide. It has inspired other countries and was recently imported to France by the Confédération des Commerçants de France.



Incorporated as a non-profit organization, it has its own board of directors and governance rules.

Upon the establishment of a Commercial Development Corporation, businesses within the area have an obligation to contribute financially to support the developed activities.

The CDC is also supported by the city where it is located and, in some cases, by the borough. Although it is a private initiative, the CDC is a legally regulated organization that takes the form of an independent body.



Similar to a city or a regional county municipality (RCM), the CDC acts within its territory to address issues affecting its members and development.

Externally, the CDC must address problems affecting the viability of its street or commercial district, particularly regarding its activities and image.

Internally, the CDC may face numerous organizational challenges, including governance, recruitment, or mobilization.

The challenges are varied:

  • The street or area is underdeveloped, evidenced by high vacancy rates or declining foot traffic
  • The street is vibrant but has not reached its full development potential
  • The street is undergoing major construction work affecting commercial activity. Consequently, consumers are less likely to visit businesses in the area, leading to reduced foot traffic
  • The street aims to establish a strong and distinctive commercial position to stand out from other commercial hubs in its environment
  • The CDC aims to develop a mobilizing vision for its members to prioritize actions and make the best choices for its territory
  • The CDC faces governance issues and challenges in mobilizing its board of directors



The commercial sector is often considered a reflection of a neighborhood’s vitality. Each neighborhood has its unique identity influenced by its residents, so it is crucial to ensure a relevant alignment between commercial offerings and demand to correspond with the essence of its inhabitants.

Espace Stratégies can support you in a range of needs to invigorate the commercial offerings of your area. We can, among other things, assist you in:

  • (Re)defining the commercial positioning of the street to identify the uniqueness of your area
  • Developing the strategic plan of the CDC, involving all stakeholders (CDC staff, administrators, members, institutional partners, citizens, etc.)
  • Implementing a commercial recruitment strategy to attract new businesses to occupy vacant premises or influence the composition of the commercial mix
  • Establishing a profile of the commercial offerings, including establishment inventory by type, composition of the commercial mix, vacancy rates, etc.
  • Establishing a profile of commercial demand, for example, by studying foot traffic, consumer origin and all sociodemographic data. Some streets may have a local focus, while others attract customers from other neighborhoods or cities
  • Conducting a walk-through diagnosis, walking the street to determine its assets and paint a dynamic picture of its reality and challenges



Espace Stratégies has built unique expertise in commercial development over the years. Indeed, we are among the few in Quebec to offer this type of strategic support to CDCs and merchant associations and have gained recognition in the market due to our experience and the quality of our work.

Espace Stratégies has strong experience in economic development structures and municipal structures, as well as knowledge of actors and their needs. Our team is multidisciplinary and has expertise in various fields, such as urban planning, land use planning, sustainable development, economic development, commercial development and industrial development.

This ecosystem knowledge also gives us direct access to a range of contacts and experts in all fields, nationwide. This knowledge, combined with our adaptability and agility, allows us to respond to very specific needs and access the necessary and appropriate expertise for your projects.


Avenue du Mont-Royal CDC

The Avenue du Mont-Royal Commercial Development Corporation (CDC) enlisted the services of Espace Stratégies to assist them in drafting a commercial positioning plan. The goal was to help the artery’s merchants better understand their current and potential customers and allow the CDC to establish a unique brand image to stand out from other commercial poles.

Wellington CDC

The Wellington Commercial Development Corporation (CDC) chose Espace Stratégies to help develop its commercial strategy and action plan to attract new business establishments to Wellington Street. To do this, ES’s team conducted a market analysis, interviewed key industry players to gauge their opinions on the future of the commercial street and conducted a commercial supply-demand assessment. Since this study and the resulting work, Wellington Street has been voted “the coolest street in the world” by TimeOut magazine. 

Monk CDC

Founded in 1981, the Monk Commercial Development Corporation (CDC) is one of the oldest in Montreal. The CDC enlisted Espace Stratégies’ services to assist in the achievement of its action plan by addressing the following three objectives: assessing the alignment between commercial supply and demand to influence the commercial mix; encouraging businesses to reinforce the CDC’s positioning and allow its development vision to be implemented; and enhancing the neighborhood’s image through culture.