Program will match digital marketing expertise to 5,200 small businesses, ensuring their long-term success in the post-COVID world
June 11, 2020– Guelph – Innovation Guelph
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a severe impact on businesses of all sizes across the country. In particular, retail-oriented main street businesses have suffered, with stores closed and in-person commerce halted. To regain revenues, many businesses are transitioning from traditional storefronts to online stores to serve more clients and capitalize on new markets.
With Ontario’s economy reopening, the federal and provincial governments have joined together to help small businesses go digital — both to recover and generate revenue through a pan-Ontario collaborative project.
Building on Toronto’s foundational investments into Digital Main Street and, most recently, ShopHERE, the federal and provincial governments today announced a $57-million investment that will extend the support to businesses across Ontario.
This investment, announced earlier today, includes $12.2 million from the Government of Canada, through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) targeting support to retail, hospitality, and service businesses in Southwestern Ontario. The funds will be used to create digital service teams to help small businesses establish their online presence, implement e-commerce tools, and develop digital transformation and digital marketing plans.
Innovation Guelph is proud to partner with the Business Centre Guelph Wellington and the Downtown Guelph Business Association in providing another level of support to Digital Mainstreet that will help Guelph-Wellington businesses adopt digital technologies to compete now and in the future.
The broader partnership, serving southwestern Ontario, brings together Communitech, HalTech, Innovation Guelph, Innovation Factory, Innovate Niagara, TechAlliance and WETech to deliver a new Futureproofing Businesses program as part of the Digital Main Street Platform. Regional Innovation Centres will work with their local partners to ensure local businesses have access to all Digital Main Street resources to help them to pivot their operations to digital business models to regain lost revenue and become more resilient and competitive as the economy recovers.
For more information or to apply, visit the Digital Main Street website.
Together, as leading innovation hubs in Southwestern Ontario, we will help enterprises from all walks of life to adapt their companies as they work toward recovery. The program will also create job opportunities for more than 725 students across Southwestern Ontario. Over the summer and fall terms, students will gain valuable work experience creating online storefronts, developing digital marketing plans, and supporting small businesses as they leverage e-commerce and other digital platforms.
“Given the economic challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s never been more important for Guelph’s small businesses to build a strong online presence. On behalf of the City and the Mayor’s Task Force for Economic Recovery, we are grateful for the federal and provincial governments’ ongoing efforts to support Ontario’s main streets through technology and innovation with programs like the Digital Service Squads and Digital Transformation Grants offered through the Digital Main Street platform.”
- Mayor Cam Guthrie, City of Guelph.
“Innovation Guelph is pleased to support this opportunity for more local businesses to develop digital marketing strategies that will make them more competitive in a post COVID-19 economy.”
- Anne Toner Fung, CEO, Innovation Guelph
“We are pleased to offer this added support to Guelph businesses, especially those hit hardest by the pandemic. Anything we can do to promote thriving, competitive, and safe business areas that attract shoppers, diners, tourists, and new businesses adds value for our members.”
- Marty Williams, Executive Director, Downtown Guelph Business Association.
“Digital Main Street has helped Guelph and Wellington County Businesses move toward virtual store fronts. Expanding this program will help with pandemic recovery and future growth and we are happy to facilitate this project to support the growth and expansion of small businesses in our region.”
- Kristel Manes, Executive Director, Business Centre Guelph Wellington
“As local economies across Ontario reopen, we’re focused on ensuring that our main streets don’t just survive, but thrive. These businesses are the backbone of our economy, a source of local jobs – and local pride. Thanks to this major investment, they’ll be able to expand their offerings and seize the many opportunities presented by online commerce. Our message to “Ontario’s small businesses and those whose livelihoods rely on them is clear: we’re working with you to help our economy come back stronger than ever.”
- The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario
“In southern Ontario, the stores along downtown streets are critical to a city’s identity. FedDev Ontario and its partners will offer the support these businesses rebuild and retool in the digital world, while providing valuable work experience to students that may have been displaced from other opportunities by the pandemic.”
-Kate Young, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages (FedDev Ontario)
“Ontario’s small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and their economic recovery is critical to Ontario’s recovery. The COVID-19 pandemic saw thousands of small businesses across the province close their doors and halt business as many had no ability to shift sales or services online. I am very pleased, that together with Minister Joly and our federal partners, we are providing small businesses with the tools they need to not only adapt to the challenges of today, but to re-establish, recover and flourish throughout this phased reopening and into the future.”
–The Honourable Prabmeet Sarkaria, Ontario Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction
- The Digital Main Street Platform is funded by both the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario.
- Support through the Digital Main Street Platform will be offered in three tiers customized to the level of support required by each company to develop or strengthen their online presence.
- The strategic partners involved in this project have a broad reach to tens of thousands of the region’s businesses from all walks of life. They offer a wealth of expertise ranging from business improvement, technology, innovation, marketing and economic development. Therefore they are best-suited to deliver this widespread support and make the greatest possible impact across the region.
Janet Wakutz, Senior Communications Officer