On June 11, 2020, the federal and Ontario governments unveiled a $57-million investment in the Digital Main Street platform that will assist up to 22,900 Ontario businesses to create and improve their online presence. The news release can be found here.
The following three programs will be offered to businesses through the Digital Main Street platform:
- shopHERE Program
- Ontario Grants Program
- Future Proofing Main Street Program
This program will provide small businesses and artists with free and rapid assistance in establishing and supporting the launch of online stores. Specifically, the business or artist will receive:
- An online Shopify store customized with their information, branding, logo
- Hands-on assistance establishing and launching their online store
- Training in digital marketing, shipping, and inventory management in order to support their online store
- Access to free tools to help support the launch of the online store
In order to qualify, a business must:
- Be a registered business or a registered non-profit organization
- Have a commercial location or be home-based
- Have fewer than 10 employees or, if it is a restaurant or bar, fewer than 25 employees
- Not be a corporate chain or franchise
- Be located in Ontario or a participating municipality
To learn more about the shopHere Program, please click here.
Ontario Grants Program
The Digital Main Street Grants Program will assist small businesses to be more effective digitally. Small businesses will be able to apply for a $2,500 Digital Transformation Grant, administered by the Ontario BIA Association, which will allow them to implement new technologies and explore digital marketing. The program will also provide training and guidance on digital transformation.
In addition, municipalities, Chambers of Commerce, and Business Improvement Areas will be able to apply for a Digital Service Squad Grant that will allow for the establishment of teams who will provide personalized, one-on-one support to small businesses. The program will also provide training and advisory support.
To learn more about the Digital Transformation Grant program or the Digital Service Squad Grant program, please click here.
Future Proofing Main Street Program
This program will provide specialized, in-depth, digital transformation services that will assist businesses in adapting to changes in their sector. The Future Proofing Main Street Program will help businesses to identify new markets, modify their business models, develop new online business models, and create and implement a digital transformation plan. The goal of the program is to ensure that businesses are well-equipped to retain customers, jobs, and revenue in uncertain times.
To learn more about the Future Proofing Main Street Program, please click here.
In addition, the Recovery Activation Program, to be offered province-wide by the Toronto Region Board of Trade at no charge, will assist businesses in digitizing their operations with consulting sessions, online resource sharing, educational webcasts, and business planning.