The Premier of Ontario has declared a province-wide state of emergency and issued a stay-at-home order in response to rising COVID-19 variant infection rates.
Tue, 08 Sep 2020
The Town of Oakville, together with the Downtown Oakville BIA, Kerr Village BIA and Bronte Village BIA, received a $50,000 grant from Digital Main Street Ontario to expand the Digital Service Squad to help more main street small businesses use digital technologies to adapt to a rapidly changing environment. The Digital Service Squad has been operating since 2019, and has been able to assist more than 200 businesses through one-on-one consultations and webinars. This new funding will allow the town to expand the program and reach more small businesses. Funding for the grant is provided by FedDev Ontario, a federal program.
“The digital economy has been a growing part of the greater economy and during the pandemic became more important than ever. This added investment to the Digital Main Street program will help more local businesses successfully enhance their digital capabilities and I encourage more businesses to participate in the program,” said Mayor Rob Burton.
Established in 2018, Digital Main Street Ontario was recently extended thanks to an investment of $42.5 million from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) and $7.45 million from the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade (MEDJCT). The nearly $50-million investment will help small businesses across Ontario to pivot their operations to include online business models, regain lost revenue and become more resilient and competitive as the economy recovers. The Ontario BIA Association administers the DMS grant program to support Ontario’s main street small businesses.
“Ontario’s small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and the keystone of our economic recovery. That is why we have invested in Digital Main Street to help these enterprises adapt to doing business in a digital world and take advantage of the record number of people shopping online,” said Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario. “Congratulations to Oakville on the expansion of your Digital Service Squad. The work you’re doing with small businesses in your community will help keep our main streets vibrant, support good local jobs and help our economy come back strong.”
Digital Service Squads are fundamental to Digital Main Street’s design and success, with trained specialists who meet with small businesses, at no cost, to help them improve their online presence. The squads assist with several activities, including developing a Google My Business profile, enhancing their social media presence and providing support for basic website and e-commerce set-up. Squads will also assist qualified small businesses through the application process for a $2,500 Digital Transformation Grant, which includes an online assessment, online training modules and the development of a Digital Transformation Plan (DTP).
“The COVID-19 pandemic hit Ontario’s main streets hard, so Digital Main Street is needed more than ever,” said Kay Matthews, Executive Director of OBIAA. “We know that businesses that participated in Digital Main Street last year were better able to cope when the pandemic hit, and we’re excited that FedDev Ontario and Ontario are providing the funding to extend this important program to help businesses in communities like Oakville.”
A vibrant community within the Greater Toronto Area, Oakville is a beautiful lakeside town with a strong heritage, preserved and celebrated by residents and visitors alike. This thriving municipality of about 211,000 residents provides all the advantages of a well-serviced urban centre, while also maintaining its small-town ambiance. Oakville known for its picturesque harbours, bustling shopping districts, active arts community and some of the best dining options in the region. Oakville benefits from a unique blend of natural spaces, growing business and employment opportunities, modern housing and transportation options, and an increasingly diverse population.
OBIAA is the network that represents unique and vibrant BIAs across Ontario. The Association supports and advocates on behalf of its members through the building and nurturing of strong relationships and partnerships. OBIAA is a leader in the development and sharing of information, tools, resources and best practices, and is the ONE voice on common issues.
Digital Main Street is an innovative program designed to help main street small businesses achieve digital transformation. The program is built around an online learning platform, structured training programs, grants and Digital Service Squads teams of street-level experts that help main street small businesses manage and grow their operations through technology adoption. The program was originally created in 2016 by the Toronto Association of BIAs (TABIA) and a group of strategic partners including Google, MasterCard, Microsoft, and Shopify. For more information, please visit digitalmainstreet.ca.
Digital Main Street was expanded across all of Ontario in 2018 with funding from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs through the $38 million Main Street Revitalization Initiative. It has been further extended through funding from FedDev Ontario and the Ontario Ministry for Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade (MEDJCT). The new round of funding includes $42.5 million from the Government of Canada’s Regional Relief and Recovery Fund, a national recovery initiative delivered by Canada’s regional development agencies. With $7.45 million from Ontario, this combined federal and provincial project will strengthen Ontario’s economic capacity for innovation, entrepreneurship and collaboration, and will promote the development of a strong and diversified Ontario economy. For more information, please visit the Digital Main Street Ontario Grants web page.