Fight Unemployment, a new venture co-founded by former Downtown London director Janette MacDonald, takes aim at combatting main street unemployment in new ways
A NEW BUSINESS venture called Fight Unemployment is aiming to help small independent businesses, business improvement areas (BIAs) and combat pandemic-related job loss and keep more money in their communities.
The business is the brainchild of small business consultants and community developers Janette MacDonald and Greg Plante, a duo who share decades of experience in small business operations and downtown development.
In addition to working with individual small business owners on everything from merchandising and inventory management to succession planning, Fight Unemployment also offers a range of training programs and tools.
MacDonald, the former executive director of Downtown London, has spent nearly 20 years as an executive in the BIA world, and says this work has always been important, but never more so than during and after the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Small business owners have always had to be so many things to so many people. They naturally need support, and post Covid this has never been more true,” said MacDonald in a released statement. “Our programs and services focus on helping owners think beyond recovery and toward long-term stability, success and sustainability.”
In addition to core fee-for-service programs and consulting, Fight Unemployment has also developed free tools like a local business directory and a community challenge to encourage local households to think differently about how they spend their discretionary dollars.
Plante, a longtime entrepreneur and former chair of the Pilette Village BIA in Windsor, says a big component of the tool component is a ‘Shift Your Spend’ campaign that encourages local shoppers to contemplate how their business can greatly impact the local economy.
According to Plante, when customers direct a portion of their spending into their local economy, the impact can be substantial and ripple through the community, which is something he says does not happen when spending at a big box store.
“Everyone of us has a friend or loved one that has been affected by job loss. If we can encourage individuals to shift just 10 per cent more of their household spending into small independent businesses, the impact to local economies can be in the millions of dollars annually,” says Plante. “Best of all, we keep moms and dads, or sons and daughters, working in local small businesses and we help create new jobs.”
Fight Unemployment officially launched its program this week in Seaforth in collaboration with the Municipality of Huron East Economic Development Office and Community Futures Huron, and Macdonald and Plante hope to expand their campaign across Southwestern Ontario and ultimately across Ontario.