Ontario’s Digital Main Street Program Supports Small Businesses in NipissingJanuary 27, 2021
Funding to assist with building and expanding online stores during COVID-19
North Bay – Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli announced that $50,000 has been awarded to small businesses in Nipissing through Ontario’s Digital Main Street Program. The program helps local businesses put their product or service online so they can market globally. Ten small businesses received Digital Transformation Grants of $2,500. A further $25,000 funded Student Digital Service Squads, a group of hired local students, who assisted many businesses with going digital and increasing their e-commerce sales.
“Nipissing’s small businesses are the backbone of our economy and our community,” said MPP Fedeli. “The Digital Service Squads are helping our businesses transition online, allowing them to access new customers safely and reliably. By choosing to shop locally we are helping our businesses stay in business.”
“As a small business owner and operator I’m grateful for the Digital Main Street Grant. Not only did the funds strengthen our online presence but also enhanced my technical skills as an entrepreneur. The DMS process was simple to navigate and an abundance of support was provided to ensure business owners were using their time efficiently and effectively,” said Katie Bevan, Owner of The Farm.
Local recipients of the $2500 Digital Transformation Grant include:
• Le Voyageur Inn – Mattawa
• Vested Interest – Callander
• Partners Billards – North Bay
• Stix n Stones – North Bay
• The Farm – North Bay
• London Underground – North Bay
• Rug a Roo – Callander
• Timeless Staging – Corbeil
• Bee at your Service – Corbeil
• Buckstone – Callander
Ontario’s Digital Main Street Program and Student Digital Service Squads, launched as a $57 million partnership between the Ontario and federal governments, are helping connect tech-savvy students, $2,500 in government grants and online training with local small businesses who need help launching and expanding their online stores – while government closures remain in place.
Students working in the squad program assess a business’s digital literacy and provide:
• Information on how to access the Digital Main Street digital transformation training program
• Help in creating a Digital Transformation Plan and applying for and spending the $2,500 Digital Transformation Grant
• Support to create or update a website and adopt best practices
• Advice on social media promotion and advertising
• Technological support and recommendations on tools for specific business needs
• Advice on additional digital transformation support including loyalty programs, point-of-sale systems, ecommerce and back-end business operations support.
Digital Service Squads across the province are already on track to help thousands of small businesses across Ontario develop their online offerings. This is meeting a critical need for many Ontario businesses as they transition to online storefronts.
The program is administered by the Ontario Business Improvement Area Association, which works with participating municipalities, Chambers of Commerce and Business Improvement Areas (BIAs). The Digital Service Squads are an important part of the Digital Main Street platform that is expected to help up to 22,900 Ontario businesses create and enhance their online presence and generate jobs for more than 1,400 students.
Currently, only about 60 percent of Ontario’s small enterprises have a website, and only 7 percent accept online payment. Through Digital Main Street, Ontario businesses are adopting new tools that will allow them to reach a wider customer base and help them weather the economic impacts of COVID-19.
- The Ontario 2020 Budget, Ontario’s Action Plan: Protect, Support, Recover outlined more than $13.5 billion in support for people and jobs.
- The Main Street Relief Grant provides up to $1,000 to help eligible small businesses for the cost of personal protective equipment (PPE). The Main Street Relief Grant is available to small businesses with two to nine employees in retail, accommodations and food services, repair and maintenance, and personal and laundry services to help cover personal protective equipment costs.
- Ontario’s Small Business Support Grant provides a minimum of $10,000 to a maximum of $20,000 to eligible small businesses who have had to restrict their operations due to the Provincewide Shutdown.
- Eligible businesses can apply for more an $600 million in support through the Ontario Small Business Support Grant, Ontario Main Street Relief Grant: PPE Support and temporary property tax and energy cost rebates through a single, online application portal
- In October, the government launched Ontario’s Main Street Recovery Plan and introduced the Main Street Recovery Act, 2020, legislation that will support small businesses and modernize rules to allow them to innovate and meet the challenges of today. The act will remove hurdles faced by small businesses and allow them to pursue new opportunities — while maintaining or enhancing protections for public health, safety and the environment.
- The Digital Main Street platform is a $57 million program jointly funded by the federal and provincial governments. It is part of Ontario’s support for small businesses through Ontario’s Main Street Recovery Plan.
- Ontario is also investing an additional $150 million in rural broadband which will help open the digital road for many Ontario small businesses.