FedDev Ontario and partners to support nearly 23,000 Ontario businesses to go digital
June 13 , 2020
Global Korean Post
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a severe impact on businesses of all sizes across the country. In particular, retail-oriented main street businesses have suffered with stores closed and in-person commerce halted.
From the outset, the Government of Canada has taken action to support sectors affected by the pandemic, including the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF), launched on May 13.
The national $962-million fund, delivered through Canada’s regional development agencies, supports small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across Canada that have been unable to get access to existing relief measures.
In southern Ontario, FedDev Ontario is delivering $213 million to provide short-term financial relief and help businesses recover. The Government of Ontario is contributing an additional $7.65 million to support this project.
It is a $57-million program which will help up to 22,900 Ontario businesses create and enhance their online presence and generate jobs for more than 1,400 students.
Support will be offered through two main platforms.
Digital Main Street Platform offers three levels of support, tailored to the needs of businesses:
- Entry Level Support–OBIAA will provide services to main street small businesses at the initial stages of developing an online presence. This level will support up to 2,750 businesses in communities across Ontario. Through this project, non-repayable contributions will be provided to both Business Improvement Areas (BIAs), chambers of commerce and municipalities to establish local digital service squads that work with businesses to develop a digital transformation plan. Contributions of $2,500 will also be provided directly to main street small businesses to support the cost of implementing elements of their transformation plan.
- Intermediate Level Support –This level builds on the “ShopHERE” model — a TABIA, and City of Toronto initiative building on TABIA’s existing Digital Main Street program. ShopHERE is focused on building online storefronts for local independent businesses and artists—by broadening its reach across Ontario. This level deploys students to build online stores and provides initial support for operating these stores as well as related digital marketing. This level is being delivered by TABIA, Communitech and Invest Ottawa and will support an estimated 16,450 businesses.
- Advanced Level Support –This level aims to future-proof main street through sustained and specialized engagement with main street firms in the retail, restaurant/hospitality, and services/trades sectors that have an established online presence and are looking to accelerate their digital growth. Students and local experts will work with these companies to provide tailored support in developing global market strategies and advanced digital marketing. Students will also benefit from networking, mentoring and specialized training provided by Communitech, Invest Ottawa, TABIA and regional innovation centres across Ontario. This level will support an estimated 2,700 businesses.