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$115K grant will help small businesses adopt digital technology

Digital Main Street Ontario funding earmarked for Wellington County Digital Service Squad
2020 08 06 Internet Speed Broadband (Adobe Stock)
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NEWS RELEASE
BUSINESS CENTRE GUELPH-WELLINGTON
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Business Centre Guelph-Wellington, in partnership with the Downtown Guelph Business Association, Wellington County, Township of Centre Wellington and the BIAs of Elora, Fergus and Erin/Hillsburg, has received a $115,000 grant from Digital Main Street Ontario for a six-member Digital Service Squad (DSS) to help small downtown businesses across Wellington County use digital technologies to adapt to a rapidly changing environment. Funding for the grant is provided by FedDev Ontario.

“This is great news for Guelph and Wellington County,” said Marty Williams, executive director of the Downtown Guelph BIA. “The Digital Main Street program has already made a huge difference to small businesses in Downtown Guelph during COVID and with this new round of funding we are poised to triple the initial impact. Thanks to the Business Centre for their leadership; it's very much appreciated.”

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 Ministry for Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade (MEDJCT). The almost $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 Ontario’s main street small businesses.

“Ontario’s small businesses are the backbone of our economy and the keystone of our economic recovery,” said Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario. “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. Congratulations to Guelph and Wellington County on the launch 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.”

Fundamental to DMS’s design are Digital Service Squads, 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 MEDJCT are providing the funding to extend this important program to help businesses in communities like Guelph and Wellington County.”

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