Kawartha Chamber Launches Digital Service Squad to Help Small Businesses Adopt Online Technologies
Receives $45,000 Digital Main Street Grant
The Kawartha Chamber of Commerce and Tourism has received a $45,000 grant from Digital Main Street Ontario for a Digital Service Squad (DSS) to help small downtown businesses use digital technologies to adapt to a rapidly changing environment. Funding for the grant is provided by the federal program FedDev Ontario.
The Squad will cover businesses in communities across northern Peterborough County, including Curve Lake First Nation, and the municipalities of Asphodel-Norwood, Douro-Dummer, North Kawartha, Selwyn and Trent Lakes.
“We are very excited for the program’s return after its initial success. This round we were fortunate to receive more resources so that we can offer greater support to businesses in our region. Local business and digital experts, acorn30, will once again be delivering the program on behalf of the partnership,” said Tracy Logan, Kawartha Chamber Board President. “COVID-19 has emphasized the importance of digitizing business tasks and providing online opportunities for customer engagement. This program will facilitate the growth of local businesses and help them embrace important digital tools. We urge businesses to view the success of last round’s participants and take this opportunity to become involved.”
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 for 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 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 the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario. “Congratulations to the Kawartha Chamber 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.”
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 a number of 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). Deadline to apply is November 30, 2020.
“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 across northern Peterborough County.”
“Businesses small and large have had to adapt to the realities of COVID-19. That means finding innovative ways to do business, like moving services online,” said Maryam Monsef, Member of Parliament for Peterborough-Kawartha. “The Government of Canada recognizes this and will continue to support businesses in Peterborough-Kawartha and across the country with funds for initiatives like the Digital Service Squad so businesses can adapt, retain employees, and be an integral part of our economic recovery.”
“COVID-19 has made it more important than ever to provide local businesses with the support they need to expand and modernize. This program is vital to preserving our local businesses and I am proud that businesses throughout Peterborough-Kawartha will once again have the opportunity to benefit from this grant,” said David Smith, Member of Provincial Parliament for Peterborough-Kawartha
ABOUT Kawartha Chamber of Commerce and Tourism
With its guiding vision, “As a trusted voice for business and a champion of prosperity and vitality in our region,” the Chamber’s mission is: “To strengthen business, regional recognition and pride of place, by serving our members and communities.” Through its many varied programs, events, and activities, the Chamber advances and promotes the well-being and interests of local businesses and the communities they serve.
The Kawartha Chamber proudly represents members in Curve Lake First Nation and the rural municipalities of Douro-Dummer, North Kawartha, Selwyn & Trent Lakes which encompass many quaint villages and hamlets.
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.
ABOUT Digital Main Street
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.
ABOUT Digital Main Street Ontario
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 digitalmainstreet.ca/ontariogrants