Hamilton, ON – The Hamilton Business Centre, in partnership with the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, has received a $150,000 grant from Digital Main Street Ontario for a Digital Service Squad (DSS) to help downtown small businesses improve their online capabilities. Digital Service Squads will support small businesses through their digital journey and will be visiting small businesses in Hamilton’s 13 Business Improvement Areas (BIAs), as well commercial corridors. Funding for the grant is provided by FedDev Ontario, a federal program.
“The Hamilton Business Centre is once again excited to be a part of the Digital Main Street programming and will have the opportunity to help small main street businesses in the community with digital transformation,” said Kristin Huigenbos, Hamilton Business Centre Coordinator. “Earlier this year, the Hamilton Business Centre was proud to share the news that over 100 Digital Transformation Grants $285,000 were given to over 100 local businesses in Hamilton, Ancaster, Stoney Creek, Waterdown and Dundas. In addition, over 300 local business were assisted in their digital transformation by Digital Main Street programs.”
Established in 2018, the Digital Main Street Ontario program was extended thanks to an investment of $42.5 million from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) and $7.45 million from the Ministry for Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade (MEDJCT). The almost $50-million investment will help small businesses across Ontario pivot their operations to include online business models, regain lost revenue and become more resilient and competitive as the economy recovers. The Ontario BIA Association administers the DMS grant program for Ontario’s main street small business.
“Ontario’s small businesses are the backbone of our economy and the keystone of our economic recovery,” said Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario. “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 City of Hamilton for partnering together on this initiative. 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.”
Digital Service Squads are fundamental to Digital Main Street’s design and success, with trained specialists who meet with small business, 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 of 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 MEDJCT are providing the funding to extend this important program to help businesses in communities like Hamilton.”
ABOUT the City of Hamilton/ Hamilton Business Centre
The City of Hamilton is a large, vibrant, and growing city known for its annual festivals, diverse dining experiences, and has recently been named one of Canada’s best locations in which to invest by Site Selection Magazine. Across the city are 13 BIAs, each representing a unique neighbourhood with legacy businesses and new entrepreneurs’ side-by-side.
Located on the first floor of City Hall, the Hamilton Business Centre is your one-stop source for business information, guidance and professional advice on starting and running a successful business. Whether you’re starting a business or developing an existing business, the Hamilton Business Centre can help.
OBIAA is the network that represents unique and vibrant BIAs across Ontario. The Association supports and advocates on behalf of its members through the building and nurturing of strong relationships and partnerships. OBIAA is a leader in the development and sharing of information, tools, resources and best practices, and is the ONE voice on common issues.
ABOUT Digital Main Street
Digital Main Street is an innovative program designed to help main street small businesses achieve digital transformation. The program is built around an online learning platform, structured training programs, grants and Digital Service Squads teams of street-level experts that help main street small businesses manage and grow their operations through technology adoption. The program was originally created in 2016 by the Toronto Association of BIAs (TABIA) and a group of strategic partners including Google, MasterCard, Microsoft, and Shopify. For more information, please visit digitalmainstreet.ca
ABOUT Digital Main Street Ontario
Digital Main Street was expanded across all of Ontario in 2018 with funding from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs through the $38 million Main Street Revitalization Initiative. It has been further extended through a funding from FedDev Ontario and MEDJCT. The new round of funding includes $42.5 million from the Government of Canada’s Regional Relief and Recovery Fund, a national recovery initiative delivered by Canada’s regional development agencies. With $7.45 million from MEDJCT, this combined federal and provincial project will strengthen Ontario’s economic capacity for innovation, entrepreneurship and collaboration, and will promote the development of a strong and diversified Ontario economy. For more information, please visit digitalmainstreet.ca/ontariogrants.