Haldimand County Launches Digital Service Squad To Help Small Businesses With eCommerce, Pandemic Recovery

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

 

ABOUT Haldimand County

Haldimand County is a single-tier municipality established in 2001. Located within Ontario’s most populous region the Greater Golden Horseshoe, Haldimand County gives you the time and the space to connect in ways you can’t anywhere else. Effortlessly blending natural landscapes, farms and small town charm with emerging suburban development and nearby cities, Haldimand is community of communities. At close to 1300 square kilometers the space that separates us is also what we share; room to grow and the support that turns potential into something more. Haldimand has a population of approximately 46,000 residents (2016 census). The County is home to several charming small towns and hamlets, each with unique attractions, quaint shops, and fascinating cultural and historic sites. The Grand River’s history, cultural value and uniqueness are recognized with its designation as a Canadian Heritage River and Lake Erie’s beautiful shoreline provide both a laid back lifestyle and perfect environment for water activities of all types.  With our extensive history in farming, agriculture along with manufacturing and tourism remain our top three sectors.

ABOUT GRAND ERIE BUSINESS CENTRE

Grand Erie Business Centre (GEBC) is a private non-profit business development corporation that has been serving Haldimand County and the Township of West Lincoln since 1989.  We provide financing, consultation, support and advice to small businesses within this area.

GEBC is one of 269 Community Futures Development Corporations across the country.  Community Futures is a not-for-profit corporation with a volunteer Board of Directors.  Grand Erie Business Centre currently receives 100% of our operational funding from FedDev Ontario (the Federal Economic Development Agency of Southern Ontario).

Our mandate is to partner with local businesses and organizations in Haldimand County and the Township of West Lincoln to facilitate community economic growth.  We measure our success by the number of jobs that are created and maintained through the businesses and projects that we support.  GEBC is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors made up of successful business people and professionals from throughout Haldimand County and the Township of West Lincoln.

ABOUT OBIAA

OBIAA is the network that represents unique and vibrant BIAs across Ontario. The Association supports and advocates on behalf of its members through the building and nurturing of strong relationships and partnerships. OBIAA is a leader in the development and sharing of information, tools, resources and best practices, and is the ONE voice on common issues.

ABOUT Digital Main Street

Digital Main Street is an innovative program designed to help main street small businesses achieve digital transformation. The program is built around an online learning platform, structured training programs, grants and Digital Service Squads teams of street-level experts that help main street small businesses manage and grow their operations through technology adoption. The program was originally created in 2016 by the Toronto Association of BIAs (TABIA) and a group of strategic partners including Google, MasterCard, Microsoft, and Shopify. For more information, please visit digitalmainstreet.ca

ABOUT Digital Main Street Ontario

Digital Main Street was expanded across all of Ontario in 2018 with funding from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs through the $38 million Main Street Revitalization Initiative. It has been further extended through a funding from FedDev Ontario and MEDJCT. The new round of funding includes $42.5 million from the Government of Canada’s Regional Relief and Recovery Fund, a national recovery initiative delivered by Canada’s regional development agencies. With $7.45 million from MEDJCT, this combined federal and provincial project will strengthen Ontario’s economic capacity for innovation, entrepreneurship and collaboration, and will promote the development of a strong and diversified Ontario economy. For more information, please visit digitalmainstreet.ca/ontariogrants.

 

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