Digital Main Street programs receives $57-million boost to help businesses enhance their online presence
DIGITAL MAIN STREET and its ShopHERE program have received a collective $57 million investment from the Government of Canada and the Province of Ontario. This includes $50 million in federal funding through FedDev Ontario and $7.6 million from the province.
The majority of the investment will fund Digital Main Street’s $2,500 grant program, which helps small businesses purchase new technology; it will also cover the costs for additional students and staff to deliver Digital Main Street’s ShopHERE program.
“As local economies across Ontario reopen, we’re focused on ensuring that our main streets don’t just survive, but thrive,” said Mélanie Joly, Canada’s minister of economic development and official languages. “These businesses are the backbone of our economy, a source of local jobs, and local pride. Thanks to this major investment, they’ll be able to expand their offerings and seize the many opportunities presented by online commerce.”
ShopHERE, launched last month, was initially a City of Toronto initiative focused on building online storefronts for local independent businesses and artists. e-commerce giant Shopify is supporting ShopHERE by assisting businesses in getting their online store built and launched within 90 days, at no cost. At the end of May, Google Canada committed $1 million to ShopHERE to help expand the program across the country.
Digital Main Street is also launching Future-Proofing Main Street, an entirely new support program aimed to help businesses pivot their business models, as well as create and implement digital transformation plans.
Future-Proofing Main Street will be delivered in partnership with regional innovation centres, including TechAlliance in London.
“Main street businesses have been catapulted into the future of commerce, and we all have a responsibility to support their entry into the innovation economy in pursuit of our region’s recovery,” said Christina Fox, CEO of TechAlliance.
The Future-Proofing program will be focused on two streams. The first stream will see teams of students and experts help adapt business models, as well as aid those businesses in their efforts to deal with COVID-19. The second stream will be a community challenge model that will see experts support main street businesses that have challenged business models.
Interested businesses can get further information, create a Digital Main Street account and assess their digital needs here.