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Ontario’s Digital Main Street Program Helps Collingwood and Town of Blue Mountains Small Businesses Build and Expand Online Stores During COVID-19

January 21, 2021
COLLINGWOOD – Twenty Collingwood small businesses and three in the Town of Blue Mountains have received Digital Transformation Grants, while others have accessed help from hired local students to go digital and increase their e-commerce sales. Throughout 2020 a total of $125,000 in funding was provided by Ontario to help Collingwood and area small businesses transform digitally, while $82,500 was granted in the Town of Blue Mountains.
 
“Central Ontario’s small businesses are the backbone of our economy and our community,” said Simcoe-Grey MPP Jim Wilson. “The Digital Service Squads are helping our businesses transition online, allowing them to access new customers safely and reliably. This program helps our downtown cores remain strong while giving local businesses the online presence they need to thrive through the pandemic and beyond,” he added.
 
Launched as a $57 million partnership between the Ontario and federal governments, Ontario’s Digital Main Street Program and Student Digital Service Squads are helping connect tech-savvy students, $2,500 in government grants and online training with local small businesses who need help launching and expanding their online stores - while government closures remain in place.
“Confronting the economic impacts from COVID-19 is a team effort, and through the Ontario Digital Main Street program and Digital Service Squads, we’re enlisting our students to help our local small businesses get up and running online,” said Prabmeet Sarkaria, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction. “I encourage all Ontarians to use their purchasing power to Support Local — by buying their goods virtually from local small businesses today and into the future.”
 
Students working in the squad program assess a business’s digital literacy and provide:
  • - Information on how to access the Digital Main Street digital transformation training program
  • - Help in creating a Digital Transformation Plan and applying for and spending the $2,500 Digital Transformation Grant
  • - Support to create or update a website and adopt best practices
  • - Advice on social media promotion and advertising
  • - Technological support and recommendations on tools for specific business needs
  • - Advice on additional digital transformation support including loyalty programs, point-of-sale systems, ecommerce and back-end business operations support.
 
Digital Service Squads across the province are already on track to help thousands of small businesses across Ontario develop their online offerings. This is meeting a critical need for many Ontario businesses as they transition to online storefronts.

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