Investing in the reopening

Feds put up $33 million, partner with local chambers for Shop Local program

THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT has announced a plan to spend $33 million across the country in support of the Shop Local program, a bid to encourage Canadians to shop at local retailers and businesses who were hard-hit throughout the pandemic.

The spending will see nearly $9 million of that fund invested in Ontario, distributed through local chambers of commerce across the province. Local chambers will be applying to the Ontario Chamber by the end of the week before receiving funding for a marketing campaign to promote shopping local.

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“A lot of businesses in London have been really hit hard by the pandemic,” notes Kristen Duever, assistant general manager at the London Chamber of Commerce. “We see this as an opportunity to give them a boost, to bring them back up to where they were.”

Duever says more details about how they will roll that campaign out will be publicized once the funding starts flowing. Broadly, the program requirements outline that the money is to be spent on Shop Local advertising and outreach with local business partners.

Investing in the reopening Shop Local COVID-19

Photo: Kristen Duever, assistant general manager at the London Chamber of Commerce

“This investment will be flexible to respond to the unique circumstances in regions across the country and allow chambers of commerce to tailor campaigns to local needs and priorities,” a release from the Ontario Chamber of Commerce reads, “and ultimately help small businesses as they recover from this unprecedented public economic crisis.”

“Small businesses are the backbone of the economy and the heart of our communities and will be critical to our recovery from the Covid-19 recession,” says Mary Ng, federal minister of small business, export promotion and international trade. “As our economy begins to safely reopen, Shop Local investments will encourage Canadians to support their local small businesses, helping them recover quicker. As we work to get through this pandemic, we all have a role to play, and the government continues to support all small business owners and entrepreneurs across the country.”

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Where that money goes in London is still up in the air — the funding was made deliberately flexible so that it could go where it is most needed, locally. Previously, the chamber has partnered with governmental funders to roll out free rapid testing across the city, in a bid to help speed up the development of consumer confidence.

“Small businesses are cornerstones of our local economies and key to thriving communities — creating jobs, driving innovation and generating wealth for Canadians. Local businesses have always been there for us and need our support now more than ever,” adds Rocco Rossi, president and CEO, Ontario Chamber of Commerce.

“Together, with the help of the Government of Canada, chambers of commerce and boards of trade across the country, we can make a difference for local businesses and help move Canada’s recovery forward.” Investing in the reopening Shop Local COVID-19 Kieran Delamont

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