Digital Main Street

Helping Main Street Businesses Reach Their Potential by Adopting Digital Tools and Technologies

Vibrant main streets help attract visitors, create jobs, and increase the competitiveness of small businesses, which are the backbone of small rural communities.

The world has changed! Main street small businesses across Ontario now must think about how to promote their goods and services online, leverage e-commerce platforms, and streamline their operational processes with digital tools to stay competitive.

Haldimand County and Grand Erie Business Centre are thrilled to bring this program to your doorstep, in partnership with the Ontario BIA Association, TABIA, the Province of Ontario and FedDev Ontario.

Today, digital capabilities are the key component businesses need to succeed in an increasingly competitive, global, and volatile environment. The DMS program is a smart, efficient way to help businesses adopt and expand their digital capabilities in ways that are realistic, actionable, and effective.

The DMS program is based on these important components:

  • Knowledge transfer through training and assessments. Digital Training (online and in-person): Webinars and workshops focusing on specific digital technologies and strategies, including e-commerce, social media, and website development.
  • Resources including Digital Transformation Grants upon completion of their digital assessment and online training, businesses may apply for a grant of up to $2,500 to offset costs as outlined in their Digital Transformation Plan and budget. These funds are available to help businesses strategically adopt technology and meet their digital goals.
  • Digital Service Squads support. Digital Service Squads are digital technology specialists in an area or region of Ontario who deliver one-on-one assistance to main street small businesses.
  • Ongoing support including access to basic digital services, a list of vendors that can identify technologies and tools businesses need to be digitally ready, and other resources such as assessments, articles, best practices, etc.

Is my business in the catchment area for this program?

This program is open to Main Street businesses.

Businesses are considered to be Main Street if:

  • They are located within a Business Improvement Area
  • They are located in the commercial core (Central Business District)
  • They are just outside of the BIA/Commercial core, but the zoning is consistent
  • There is no BIA and they are zoned commercial (there may be some exclusions)
  • They are in a rural location zoned Highway Commercial (there may be some exclusions)

Businesses are ineligible if:

  • They are located in an industrial area
  • They are located in a shopping mall (even if it is zoned commercial)
  • It is a shared workspace (ex. hot desks)
  • They are home-based
  • They are in a rural secluded area

View the maps below and contact us at should you have any questions on whether you meet the definition of a Main Street business.

Caledonia Map
Cayuga Map
Dunnville Map
Hagersville Map
Jarvis Map
Selkirk Map

Fundamental to the program’s design is the Digital Service Squad. These trained specialists meet with small businesses, at no cost, help them complete an online assessment, and introduce them to online training modules to build their knowledge and skills.

This one-on-one assistance includes support for basic website set-up, Google My Business profiles, 360º photos, digital storefront set-up with e-commerce, creation, or enhancement of social media presence, and much more.

Haldimand County has hired 4 Digital Service Squad members ready to serve you safely either in person or via remote video conference.

They can also assist with the development of their Digital Transformation Plan (DTP) and then help them apply for a one-time $2,500 grant to implement it.

Businesses receiving DMS grants can apply the funds in a variety of ways, including optimizing websites for search, setting up e-commerce platforms, back-office solutions, social media advertising, and creating customer databases.

As we have learned in recent months, businesses best able to survive the COVID-19 shutdown were those that had made investments in e-commerce capabilities, remote-working technologies, and customer relationship tools.

By improving their ability to work online, as well as to reach and sell to customers online, businesses were able to continue earning revenue, keep customer relationships intact, and maintain ties with suppliers.

Do I Qualify for a Digital Transformation Grant?

Once your Digital Transformation Plan (DTP) has been created, you can apply for a Digital Transformation Grant to upgrade qualified digital improvements. The Digital Service Squad is available to assist you in your application. Ask if the Digital Transformation Grant is currently open and taking applications.

Business must meet the following requirements:

Must be a main street business that:

  • Is located in, or close to, a downtown main street, a Business Improvement Area or has
    zoning consistent with a municipality’s Operating Plan defining a central business district
  • Is employing 1-10 employees (or fewer than 25 employees if they are a café, restaurant, or bar)
  • Is paying commercial property tax (commercially assessed), either directly or through commercial rent
  • Is a registered business in Ontario and/or is incorporated
  • Is open for business/operating at the time of application (not a start-up)
  • Is NOT a business supplying digital services to other businesses
    (e.g. website design/development, SEO, programming)
  • Is NOT a franchise, including those individually owned and operated
  • Is NOT a not-for-profit/ charitable organization
  • Is NOT renting office space on a temporary basis (month-to-month)
  • Is NOT in a shared workspace such as a hot desk or dedicated desk

Is NOT a purely online business.

Owned by:

  • An Ontario resident operating a business in Ontario.
  • An individual of 18 years of age or older at the time of application.
  • A Canadian citizen or permanent resident.

Has completed the Digital Transformation for Main Street program, which includes:

  • The Digital Main Street Assessment
  • Has passed the eligibility quiz
  • The online training

Developing a Digital Transformation Plan

The Digital Service Squad offered a number of webinars to assist businesses with increasing their online presence. These workshops were being presented in partnership with Haldimand County and Grand Erie Business Centre.

View archived workshops here.

Workshop All About Instagram Workshop 

Are you promoting your #LocalBusiness on Instagram? This webinar gives an introductory overview of everything you need to know to establish a business profile on Instagram. Bailey and Chloe will teach you how you can start posting like a #pro!

Coming Soon!

Effective Advertising on Facebook Workshop

This workshop will focus on teaching you how to make a simple, effective ad that can also be displayed on Instagram. We will walk you through the selection of an ad objective, how you can choose your audience, setting your daily budget, and how to monitor your ad’s performance metrics. We will include some tips and tricks that will contribute to your success with future Facebook ads.

Watch Now!

Targeted Email Marketing Workshop

In this workshop you will learn how to utilize your client contact list efficiently and effectively with the email marketing platform Mailchimp. We will guide you through uploading contacts and organizing them based on interests to customize templates and promotions. Finally, a sample email marketing campaign will be created.

Watch Now! 

Custom Graphics with Canva Workshop

This workshop gives an overview of the graphic design platform Canva. This is a great tool businesses can use to create graphic design elements for their social media and email marketing. Canva offers free customizable templates. Join us and start designing like a pro!

Watch Now! 

Analyzing Facebooks Ads and Insights Webinar 

“I’ve run a Facebook ad… now what?”

This webinar looks at the different metrics available to you so you can evaluate how your ads are performing. Chloe and Bailey will walk you through the definition of different ad metrics, Facebook Pixels, and look at the insights associated with your page’s performance

Watch Now!

 Haldimand Helps: Setting Up a Google My Business

Looking for super simple and easy way to spread the word about your business? Lets start with the basics, which is having a Google My Business listing. With Google being the most used search engine, this is a great way for your business to get more exposure.

View Tutorial Video Here 

Haldimand Helps: Setting up a Google Alert 

With the vast number of news channels and publications, its hard to know when your business is mentioned. Google Alerts is here to end all those missed opportunities! The Digital Service Squad Team has created a Google Alerts Tutorial video for you to learn how to set up Google alerts, so you are always in the know of what’s happening around the county and with your business!

View Tutorial Video Here 

Instagram Posting Part One: Page Posts 

Have you been looking to use Instagram but not known what to post or how to post? We have the perfect solution for you! The Digital Service Squad Team has created a two part Instagram posting video! In this first part, learn about posting to your page and how to take Instagram photos!

View Tutorial Video Here 

Instagram Posting Part Two: Story Posts 

This is our Second part of our Instagram posting tutorials! In this video, we go over Story posts! These are special post that disappear after 24 hours and are perfect for daily specials, one day promotions and even interacting with your followers! Check out our video linked bellow!

View Tutorial Video Here 

Boosting Posts on Instagram 

With Instagram having over one billion monthly active users, we can look into tapping into this market of young individuals! Instagram is the photo based social media giant, and that’s perfect for showcasing your products and services. Check out our tutorial to learn how to advertise on Instagram through Instagram boosting!

View Tutorial Video Here 

Giveaways Part One: Creating the Giveaway 

Do you have an amazing product you want to showcase more on your social media? Do you want to get more social media followers? Well, Giveaways can do that plus more! Giveaways are a great way to showcase different items and create a social media buzz around your business. Find out how to plan and create your giveaway with our two part tutorial video series. In the first part, we will be creating our giveaway outline and the giveaway post.

View Tutorial Video Here 

Giveaways Part Two: Selecting Winner and Post Giveaway Editing 

Now once you’ve posted your giveaway, what’s next? Find out what to do after your giveaway is like in the second part of our giveaway tutorial! In this video we cover how to pick the winner and adjusting your post afterwards.

View Tutorial Video Here 

Social Media Planning: Social Media Plan and Setting up a Calendar 

Are you having trouble finding things to post on your social media plan consistently? We can help with that! Our Digital Service Squad Team has created a Tutorial Video on setting up a social media plan and calendar for you to plan out a months worth of content!

View Tutorial Video Here 

Video Editing on Davinci Resolve

Learn how to edit your very own videos! Using Davinci Resolve, learn how to import, cut, adjust and export your videos. Follow along with our premade video package and video tutorial!

View Tutorial Video Here


Please note, you are not required to complete all phases of this program.  A plan will be customized by your DSS Team Member that meets your specific needs, priorities and timelines.

Are you a local digital service provider? Join our vendor list here.

Contact Us

Contact us to start your digital transformation:

905-318-5932 ext. 6331