June 11, 2020 – Burlington – Haltech Regional Innovation Centre
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 to 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. Digital Main Street is a program that helps small main street businesses better promote themselves online and adopt digital tools and technology.
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 Communitech, Haltech Regional Innovation Centre (Halton), Innovation Guelph (Guelph), Innovation Factory (Hamilton), Innovate Niagara (Niagara), TechAlliance (London) and WETech (Windosor Essex) to deliver a new Futureproofing Businesses program as part of the Digital Main Street Platform. The partners will work to ensure local businesses have access to all Digital Main Street resources — helping them pivot their operations to digital business models in order to regain lost revenue and become more resilient and competitive as the economy recovers.
To carry out this effort in Halton Region, Haltech Regional Innovation Centre is proud to partner with the Region of Halton’s Small Business Centre, Economic Development teams, the Chambers of Commerce and local Business Improvement Areas’s to help small businesses have the resources and support they need to adopt digital technologies to compete now and in the future. “Our effort has been working with innovation businesses to help accelerate their growth and navigate the challenges, give a discount on medicines. Recently, the focus has been on helping them pivot and find the path from survive to thrive during and after the pandemic. We are excited to now be working with FedDev and our Halton partners to add increased support for small businesses in adopting the power of technology,” said Shann McGrail, Executive Director of Haltech.
As one of the leading innovation hubs in Southwestern Ontario, Haltech will work together with its partners to help enterprises from all walks of life to adapt their companies as they focus on recovery. The program will also create job opportunities for students. 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.
For more information or to apply, visit the Digital Main Street website.
Federal and Provincial Quotes
“As local economies across Ontario reopen, we’re focused on ensuring that our main streets don’t just survive but thrive. These businesses are the backbone of our economy, a source of local jobs – and local pride. Thanks to this major investment, they’ll be able to expand their offerings and seize the many opportunities presented by online commerce. Our message to “Ontario’s small businesses and those whose livelihoods rely on them is clear: we’re working with you to help our economy come back stronger than ever.”
- The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario
“In southern Ontario, the stores along downtown streets are critical to a city’s identity. FedDev Ontario and its partners will offer the support these businesses rebuild and retool in the digital world, while providing valuable work experience to students that may have been displaced from other opportunities by the pandemic.”
-Kate Young, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages (FedDev Ontario)
“Ontario’s small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and their economic recovery is critical to Ontario’s recovery. The COVID-19 pandemic saw thousands of small businesses across the province close their doors and halt business as many had no ability to shift sales or services online. I am very pleased, that together with Minister Joly and our federal partners, we are providing small businesses with the tools they need to not only adapt to the challenges of today, but to re-establish, recover and flourish throughout this phased reopening and into the future.”
–The Honourable Prabmeet Sarkaria, Ontario Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction
Local Stakeholder Support and Quotes:
“Halton Region’s Small Business Centre has continued to work with community partners to support local businesses impacted by COVID-19. As the Province starts to reopen and small businesses continue to adjust to new ways of doing business, this funding will provide valuable assistance for those looking to boost their digital presence and support employers as they plan their recovery.”– Halton Regional Chair Gary Carr
“This global pandemic has been difficult on everyone, including our local shops. We’ve all had to find more digital and virtual ways to do the things we’ve been used to doing to carry on. This joint federal and provincial governments’ commitment to help our struggling small businesses thrive digitally is great news and another example of all levels of government working together to help those residents and businesses who need it.” – Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward
“The last few months have put a tremendous strain on the business sector across Ontario. In Milton, our small business owners and retailers have shown their resiliency. The ShopHERE program is one of ways the Town is supporting our business community in Milton. The investment today ensures that even more independent businesses in our community will receive the help they need to move their products and services online.” – Milton Mayor Gordon Krantz
“The Town of Oakville’s Economic Development department launched the Digital Main Street program as part of the mitigation strategy for the Lakeshore Road Streetscape Project in 2019. The Town’s contribution of $20,000 last July was complemented by a $30,000 provincial grant that has already helped almost 100 Oakville businesses create and enhance their online presence. Today’s announcement of $57 million from the Federal and Provincial Governments will assist even more Oakville businesses as we enter the recovery period.” – Oakville Mayor Rob Burton
“I have heard first hand from some of our local businesses around the challenges they have had in dealing with the impacts of the pandemic. The funding from the provincial and federal governments is both welcome and necessary to support small business owners in adapting and leveraging technology.”- Halton Hills Mayor Rick Bonnette
Chambers of Commerce:
“The impacts of the global pandemic are being felt by local small businesses and will be felt long after the state of emergency has ended. The Burlington Chamber of Commerce is pleased to partner to offer this timely support to equip small businesses with the necessary tools and resources to adapt to the changing landscape that COVID-19 has brought on. This much needed support is a significant step to prepare our economy for recovery and to ensure the viability of business into the future,” –Carla Y. Nell, President & CEO, Burlington Chamber of Commerce
“Early in the pandemic, many small businesses were thrust into the world of e-commerce, some by choice and some for sheer survival. As we emerge from the shutdown, these same businesses want to now take the time to create a more effective and sophisticated online presence. Digital Main Street will be an invaluable resource” – Scott McCammon, Executive Director, Milton Chamber of Commerce
“The Halton Hills Chamber of Commerce is pleased to see the additional funding for Futureproofing Businesses program targeting our hardest hit sectors: retail, hospitality and services and we look forward to working with Haltech to connect our community to these resources.” – Kathleen Dills, General Manager, Halton Hills Chamber of Commerce
- 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.
Haltech is a not for profit Regional Innovation Centre funded by the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development Job Creation and Trade. Haltech provides entrepreneurial education, advisory services and strategic connections to technology start up and scale up companies in Halton Region to help them accelerate growth and bring innovations to market. Since it’s inception, Haltech has worked with over 800 technology and innovation companies. In its last fiscal year, clients of Haltech generated over $63 million dollars of revenue, created 428 jobs, and raised $21.5m in capital.
Links to Announcements:
Shann McGrail, Executive Director of Haltech Regional Innovation Centre
905 302 3519