Pilot Projects to Focus on Digital Experiences on Land, Water & Farm
CHATHAM, ON., April 29, 2021 – WEtech Alliance, in partnership with the Ontario Tourism Innovation Lab, has announced the winners of the Chatham-Kent “Spark” Program Digital Services package, as part of the Sparking Tourism 4.0 Community Collaboration Project.
The winners will each receive a digital services package valued at up to $10,000 to support technology development and adoption of their project made possible by the Digital Main Street – Future Proof, Community Collaboration Program.
In April, five finalists made their pitches for the Chatham-Kent “Spark” Program making them eligible to receive a digital services package valued at up to $10,000 to support technology development and adoption of their project.
“We are so excited to see that in addition to financial support and assistance with a mentor, two of our 2021 “Spark” program winners have extra funds and tools at their disposal to move their tourism dreams into reality even faster,” says Shannon Paiva, Supervisor of Tourism Development with (the Municipality of Chatham-Kent) Community Attraction & Promotion. “We hope most, if not all, of this $20,000 is spent with local technology businesses in Chatham-Kent. Thanks to WEtech for providing us this extra element at a time when it is needed most.”
The winners of the Chatham-Kent “Spark” Program Digital Services package are:
The Downtown Kayaking Experience
The project will include developing QR Codes that will hold digital information about the historic/local stories associated with our buildings and parks in Downtown Wallaceburg. This will serve as a natural addition to the historic kayaking package tours we are developing with the Wallaceburg and District Museum, Wallaceburg Trails Committee, and the Wallaceburg Canoe and Kayak Club. It will also give us the ability to extend our tourism offerings to those who prefer on-land activities or are looking for something to do in the off-season. As a non-profit, our goal with this project is to bring people Downtown in a fun, engaging way that will highlight what Downtown Wallaceburg has to offer in terms of nature, history, and local businesses.
“The Downtown Wallaceburg BIA and community partners are overjoyed with the possibilities that this digital service support offers our “Spark” grant idea; The Downtown Kayaking Experience. These funds mean that we will be able to further highlight what makes our downtown unique and help us promote our local businesses and cultural centres who need us now more than ever,” says Downtown Wallaceburg BIA co-ordinator, Kelsey Nydam.
The Culinary Farm
The project will help develop an innovative online learning space through our website so we can create and build virtual experiences to attract tourists from around the globe, while also working with the current restrictions in place because of COVID for the foreseeable future. Additionally, the project will construct a wood fired kitchen on our farm to be able to tie all the unique food production on our farm together and for consumers. We are also excited because this allows us to collaborate with other farms and chefs from the region to bring food experiences right onto the farm so people can connect with their food and understand all that goes into producing it.
“Our family and farm is thrilled at the opportunity to work with WEtech Alliance through the Digital Services Package and the expertise they will be able to offer in helping us navigate the online space as we have to think about working with the parameters COVID-19 requires us to” says Paul Spence, The Culinary Farm.
“One of our goals is to cultivate and propel collaborations between the tourism and tech sectors to spark new innovations, offerings, and product delivery – an endeavor that is more important now than ever for businesses and organizations to be competitive and resilient,” says Justin Lafontaine, Program Lead of the Ontario Tourism Innovation Lab. “Our partnership with WEtech Alliance will allow these unique experiences to be enjoyed safely through an exciting digital delivery format,” Lafontaine adds.
Community Collaboration Projects connect regional innovation centres and community organizations in a series of engaging conversations on common issues facing small businesses to build workable solutions. The Digital Main Street Community Collaboration Project is made possible through financial support of the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) and the Government of Ontario.
“WEtech Alliance is pleased to support these innovative tourism-centred projects. Both projects are creating enriched experiences by leveraging the power of technology. The tourism sector is important and among the fastest-growing industry regionally. Technology will play an important role in reshaping and reviving the industry post-COVID-19 while further fueling main street economic recovery.” says Yvonne Pilon, President/CEO of WEtech Alliance.
To learn more about Community Collaboration projects, visit: www.wetech-alliance.com/solutions.
About WEtech Alliance:
WEtech Alliance is one of seventeen Regional Innovation Centres, funded by the Province of Ontario, serving the Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent regions. They provide entrepreneurs with business services, training, mentorship and strategic connections to help bring new ideas to market, scale to the next level and build a dynamic culture and a community of innovation. WEtech Alliance has served as the catalyst for technology and innovation in the Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent regions since 2011. www.wetech-alliance.com
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 of 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.
A $42.5-million investment from FedDev Ontario and an additional $7.45 million from the Government of Ontario brought together the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas, Communitech, Invest Ottawa, and the Ontario Business Improvement Area Association to expand the Digital Main Street Platform in order to support more businesses to go digital as a response to the impacts of COVID-19. www.digitalmainstreet.ca
About Ontario Tourism Innovation Lab:
The Ontario Tourism Innovation Lab is a non-profit initiative created to find, foster and support new tourism ideas, experiences and partnerships, to cultivate and propel collaborations between the tourism and tech sectors, and to build a community of tourism innovators, idea makers and entrepreneurs in Ontario. Launched as a pilot in Windsor Essex in 2018, the Lab and its “Spark” Mentorships & Grants Program have expanded to over 10 regions across the province. The Lab is a program of Hackforge and is based at the University of Windsor-EPICentre. www.tourisminnovation.ca
For more information or media inquiries, please contact:
President/CEO, WEtech Alliance
Program Lead, Ontario Tourism Innovation Lab
The Culinary Farm
Coordinator, Downtown Wallaceburg BIA
Supervisor of Tourism Development with (the Municipality of Chatham-Kent) Community Attraction and Promotion
P: 226-312-2023 x 4263