Haldimand County has received a $94,000 grant from Digital Main Street Ontario for a Digital Service Squad (DSS) to help small main street businesses in the region use digital technologies to adapt to a rapidly changing environment. Grand Erie Business Centre is supporting this grant through in-kind administrative support in excess of $12,000.  Funding for the grant is provided by FedDev Ontario. The Squad will be available to assist businesses in communities across Haldimand County, including Caledonia, Cayuga, Dunnville, Hagersville, Selkirk, and Jarvis.

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 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.

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 businesses’ 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).

For more information on registration and how to be connected with a specialist from the Digital Service Squad, contact the Economic Development and Tourism Division at 905-318-5932 or email opportunity@haldimandcounty.on.ca. Digital Service Specialists will be offering one on one meetings with businesses to review current technology and to provide guidance and support in improving their online presence. To learn more about the program, visit BusinessHaldimand.ca. The Digital Main street program will run until February 29, 2021.

Quotes

“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. Congratulations to Haldimand 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.”

– The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario

“The COVID-19 pandemic hit Ontario’s main streets hard, so Digital Main Street is needed more than ever. 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 small main street business like those across Haldimand County.”

– Kay Matthews, Executive Director of OBIAA

“This funding will provide the ability for Haldimand County to hire four digital service specialists to provide hands-on assistance to help our businesses improve their digital presence. It is vital that small businesses are keeping up with technology, especially in this landscape. Haldimand County is thrilled to be able to provide this service for our local business owners.”

– Haldimand County Mayor Ken Hewitt