Future-Proofing Main Street Through Sustained & Specialized Engagement
Windsor, ON (June 11, 2020) – The COVID-19 pandemic has had a severe impact on businesses of all sizes across the country. In particular, retail-oriented main street businesses have suffered, with stores closed and in-person commerce halted. To regain revenues, many businesses are transitioning from traditional storefronts to online stores to serve more clients and capitalize on new markets.
With Ontario’s economy reopening, the federal and provincial governments have joined together to help small businesses go digital — both to recover and generate revenue through a pan-Ontario collaborative project.
Building on Toronto’s foundational investments into Digital Main Street and, most recently, ShopHERE, the federal and provincial governments today announced a $57-million investment that will extend the support to businesses across Ontario.
This investment includes $12.2 million from the Government of Canada, through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) targeting support to retail, hospitality, and service businesses in Southwestern Ontario. The funds will be used to create digital service teams to help small businesses establish their online presence, implement e-commerce tools, and develop digital transformation and digital marketing plans.
The partnership brings together Southwestern Ontario Regional Innovation Centres (RICs) Communitech, Haltech, Innovation Guelph, Innovation Factory, Innovate Niagara, TechAlliance and WEtech Alliance to deliver a new Future Proofing Main Street program as part of the Digital Main Street Platform. The partners involved offer a wealth of expertise ranging from business acceleration, technology, innovation, marketing and economic development.
The Future Proofing Main Street program will be one of three levels of support offered by the Digital Main Street Platform. Each level of support will include a program tailored to the needs of businesses from entry level to advanced level.
WEtech will work alongside its Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent partners including Small Business Centres, Business Improvement Associations, Economic Development organizations and Chambers of Commerce, to support the delivery of the advanced level of support.
For more information or to apply, visit the Digital Main Street website.
Together, as leading innovation hubs in Southwestern Ontario, we will help enterprises from all walks of life to adapt their companies as they work toward recovery. The program will also create job opportunities for more than 725 students across Southwestern Ontario. Over the summer and fall terms, students will gain valuable work experience creating online storefronts, developing digital marketing plans, and supporting small businesses as they leverage e-commerce and other digital platforms.
- The Digital Main Street Platform is funded by both the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario.
- Support through the Digital Main Street Platform will be offered in three tiers customized to the level of support required by each company to develop or strengthen their online presence. More information on the levels of support is available in the Backgrounder.
- The strategic partners involved in this project have a broad reach to tens of thousands of the region’s businesses from all walks of life. They offer a wealth of expertise ranging from business improvement, technology, innovation, marketing and economic development. Therefore they are best-suited to deliver this widespread support and make the greatest possible impact across the region. Read more about this pivotal project.