County of Brant receives additional funding to assist downtown businesses

Posted On Tuesday August 25, 2020

The County of Brant has received a $29,680 grant from Digital Main Street Ontario for a Digital Service Squad (DSS) to help downtown small businesses in the County use digital technologies to adapt to a rapidly changing environment. The County is partnering with the Downtown Paris BIA, the St. George Business Association and the Burford and Area Business Association to administer the squad. Funding for the grant is provided by FedDev Ontario, a federal program.

“We are so thankful for this second round of funding,” said Russell Press, Director of Economic Development and Tourism for the County of Brant. “We received a $20,000 grant in 2019 to begin helping local companies. The additional funding will allow small businesses across the County to continue pivoting their operations to include online business models, regain lost revenue and become more resilient and competitive as the economy recovers. This funding and support will be a game changer for many of our small businesses.”

Established in 2018, Digital Main Street Ontario has received an investment of $42.5 million from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) and $7.45 million from the Ontario Ministry for Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade (MEDJCT). The nearly $50-million investment will help small businesses across Ontario. The Ontario BIA Association administers the DMS grant program to Ontario’s main street small businesses.

“Ontario’s small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and the keystone of our economic recovery. That is why we have invested in Digital Main Street to help these enterprises adapt to doing business in a digital world, and take advantage of the record number of people shopping online. Congratulations to the County of Brant on the launch of your Digital Service Squad. The work you’re doing with small businesses in your community will help keep our main streets vibrant, support good local jobs and help our economy come back strong,” said The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario.

Digital Service Squads are fundamental to Digital Main Street’s design and success, with trained specialists who meet with small businesses, at no cost, to help them improve their online presence. The squads assist with a number of activities, including developing a Google My Business profile, enhancing their social media presence and providing support for basic website and e-commerce set-up. Squads will also assist qualified small businesses through the application process for a $2,500 Digital Transformation Grant, which includes an online assessment, online training modules and the development of a Digital Transformation Plan (DTP).

“The COVID-19 pandemic hit Ontario’s main streets hard, so Digital Main Street is needed more than ever,” said Kay Matthews, Executive Director of OBIAA. “We know that businesses that participated in Digital Main Street last year were better able to cope when the pandemic hit, and we’re excited that FedDev Ontario and Ontario are providing the funding to extend this important program to help businesses in communities across the County of Brant.”