The Government of Ontario, in partnership with the federal government, has announced a new suite of funding programs that help small businesses reach more online customers. Complementary funding will also be made available to municipalities, Chambers of Commerce, and Business Improvement Areas (BIAs).
This $57 million initiative, the Digital Main Street Platform, will help up to 22,900 businesses create and enhance their online presence. Digital Main Street will also create jobs for more than 1,400 students.
Five programs will be offered and will open for applications in the coming weeks:
- shopHERE powered by Google will help small businesses that did not previously have online stores to launch one,
- the Digital Main Street Grant will help main street small businesses improve the efficiency of their digital operations. It will provide a $2500 grant, administered by the Ontario BIA Association, to adopt new technologies and embrace digital marketing,
- Future-Proofing Main Street will help existing main-street firms adapt to changes by providing specialized and in-depth digital transformation services and support. By leveraging teams of digital marketing professionals and students, these firms will be able to create new online business models, develop and implement digital and e-commerce marketing strategies, and maximize digital tools, platforms, and content,
- Municipalities, Chambers of Commerce, and BIAs can apply for a Digital Service Squad grant, which will allow them to establish teams to provide personalized, one-on-one support related to the Digital Main Street program, and
- the Recovery Activation Program, an in-kind program administered by the Toronto Region Board of Trade, will help businesses grow and digitize their operations with custom consulting sessions, online resource sharing, learning webcasts, and business planning. This program will be offered province-wide and at no cost to businesses.
“The global marketplace is rapidly changing, and in order to compete and succeed, Ontario must adapt,” said Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade. “Digital Main Street will help our businesses in expanding their reach to meet new markets and adjust to the new realities of doing business during the pandemic and into the next phase of economic recovery.”
This new initiative comes after many businesses struggled in the new reality of the COVID pandemic, due in part to a lack of online presence. Across Ontario, 60% of small businesses have a website and only 7% have an online payment solution. According to the Government, Canadian businesses are estimated to be two years behind their US counterparts when it comes to going digital.
This isn’t the Ontario Government’s first program that aims to support e-commerce activities. Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) previously offered the Voucher for E-Business (VEB), which connected businesses with colleges to scale up the development, adoption, and implementation of online tools.
Find these programs and other grants on Fundsearch today.