This paper analyses the role of social economy-based local actors in developing social innovation in Montreal. On the basis of a case study in the garment industry, the paper analyses the role played by community economic development corporations in the economic and urban reconversion in the city. The paper has five sections:
1 the problems and the issues facing Montreal’s garment industry
2 the theoretical concepts used in the analysis, i.e., proximity, social innovation, and governance
3 a brief introduction of community economic development corporations (CDEC) in Montreal
4 presentation of a case study in which a CDEC promotes the implementation of a fashion designers’ cluster in a Montreal neighbourhood
5 the analysis of the specific role played by the CDEC in the development of this cluster.
The paper shows that innovation is not the exclusive playing field of high-tech sectors and aims to expand our vision of innovation to include stakeholders who mobilise resources that are not academic but rather the result of institutionally and locally-based learning.
Keywords: social innovation, social economy, community development, garment industry, local development, cluster, reconversion, innovation