In the fall of 2020, Haldimand County’s Economic Development and Tourism Division – in partnership with Grand Erie Business Centre – received almost $94,000 to bring a Digital Service Squad to the community. The Digital Service Squad is one of several programs offered by Digital Main Street. Digital Main Street is funded through the launch of a $57 million partnership between FedDev Ontario and the Province of Ontario and is administered through the Ontario Business Improvement Area Association (OBIAA). The Digital Service Squad’s focus is to work with business owners to help develop and improve the businesses’ online presence.
Throughout the fall of 2020, Haldimand County’s Digital Service Squad went door-to-door in Caledonia, Hagersville, Jarvis, Cayuga, Dunnville, Selkirk and Fisherville to introduce the program to local businesses and promote the $2500 Digital Transformation Grant that businesses could apply for to assist with enhancing their digital presence. This resulted in the Digital Service Squad assisting over 200 local businesses from October to December 2020 with 78 of those businesses receiving approval for the Digital Transformation Grant. The overall outcome was a total of $195,000 going back to the businesses and our local community.
In addition to assisting the business with the grant application, developing a transformation plan and putting their plan into action, the Digital Service Squad has also worked closely with the businesses to improve their current digital methods. The team has assisted businesses in claiming and updating their Google My Business listings, using social media better and researching and implementing e-commerce solutions for their businesses, as well as providing assistance in enhancing new and existing websites.
“The Digital Service Squad has been well-received by many local businesses across Haldimand County,” said Lidy Romanuk, Manager of Economic Development and Tourism. “We are pleased to be able to provide this free service to businesses at a critical time when businesses are looking for alternative business solutions and enhancing online access to their products,” said Romanuk.
While the Digital Service Squad is prevented from making in-person visits during the provincial Stay-at-Home measures, the success of the Digital Service Squad continues. Any businesses wishing to connect with the Squad can do so via a virtual meeting or via phone.
Through the months of January and February the Digital Service Squad is hosting virtual webinars. To date more than 130 attendees have registered for these 30-minute webinars. The webinar topics are focused on digital tools and provide businesses with an introductory understanding of how to use and implement them. The webinar topics are Targeted Email Marketing, Email Marketing: After the Send, Custom Graphics with Canva, Effective Advertising on Facebook and Square POS. To register to attend these free webinars or to schedule a meeting with a Digital Service Squad member go to BusinessHaldimand.ca for more information.