Hamilton, ON. The Hamilton Business Centre, in partnership with the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, has received a $150,000 grant from Digital Main Street’s Ontario Grants Program (OGP) for a Digital Service Squad (DSS). The DSS will provide trained digital specialists to local small businesses to help them adopt online technologies and digitally transform their sales, marketing, and back-office operations. The squad will begin working with local businesses in Hamilton and the surrounding area virtually with plans to visit physical locations in mid-late September according to local and Provincial health regulations.
“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 Digital Transformation Grants equalling $432,500 was awarded to over 173 local businesses in Hamilton, Ancaster, Stoney Creek, Waterdown, and Dundas during the Digital Transformation Grant Program 2.0, an increase of approx. 60% over the previous year’s grant totals. In addition, over 350 local businesses were assisted in their pursuit of digital transformation by Digital Main Street programs.”
Renewed government funding of the OGP – including investment from the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation, and Trade – will provide 3,000 Digital Transformation Grants to qualified brick-and-mortar small businesses as well as Digital Service Squad grants for organizations to provide hands-on assistance to local small businesses. The OGP is administrated by the Ontario BIA Association, in partnership with the Toronto Association of BIAs (TABIA).
“Ontario small businesses are the heart of our neighbourhoods and the economic foundation of our communities,” said Nina Tangri, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction for Ontario. “Our government is committed to being there for them as they reopen. This additional support will give these businesses the digital boost they need to raise their profile and rebuild better than ever.”
The cornerstone of Digital Main Street, these squads consist of trained specialists who meet with brick-and-mortar small businesses at no cost to help them complete an online assessment and introduce them to online training modules to build their knowledge and skills. These experts can also assist businesses with developing their Digital Transformation Plan (DTP) and applying for a one-time $2,500 grant to implement it. This one-on-one DSS assistance also includes support for basic website set-up, Google My Business profiles, 360º photos, social media presence, and much more. The DSS can also provide information on the ShopHERE program, if applicable, to assist with digital storefront set-up and e-commerce. Where COVID-19 restrictions are in place, DSS experts can provide support through phone and video tools such as Zoom.
“In the past 16 months, as small businesses across the province fought to stay open and keep customers engaged online, Digital Service Squads were there to help,” said Kay Matthews, Executive Director of OBIAA. “Squads jumped online themselves during lockdowns to help virtually, and businesses have consistently told us how important the DSS was to their success through the pandemic. We are thrilled to support this DSS [name] and help them provide assistance to even more small businesses than ever.”
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 ranked in the top 2 for the Best City for Youth to Work in Canada according to the 2019 RBC Youthful Cities Urban Work Index. 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 a program that helps main street businesses achieve digital transformation. The program is built around an online learning platform, structured training programs, and our Digital Service Squad, a team of street-level team members who help main street businesses grow and manage their operations through technology.
Digital Main Street was created by the Toronto Association on Business Improvement Areas (TABIA) with direct support from the City of Toronto. DMS is also supported by a group of strategic business partners, including Google, Mastercard, Shopify, Microsoft, Facebook, Intuit QuickBooks, Square, and Yellow Pages. www.digitalmainstreet.ca
Michael R. Marini, MA, Cert. PR, APR, Ec. D.