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Burlington Launches Digital Service Squad to Help Small Businesses Adopt Online Technologies with the help of $50,000 Digital Main Street Ontario Grant

BURLINGTON, ON – September 22, 2020

Burlington Economic Development on behalf of the Burlington Economic Recovery Network (BERN) has received a $50,000 grant from Digital Main Street Ontario for a Digital Service Squad (DSS) to help main street small businesses use digital technologies to adapt to a rapidly changing environment.  Funding for the grant is provided by FedDev Ontario, a federal program. The squad will begin engaging businesses in Burlington in early Fall.

BERN is an initiative led by Team Burlington and is comprised of Burlington Economic Development, Burlington Chamber of Commerce, Burlington Downtown Business Association, Tourism Burlington and the Aldershot Village BIA.

Anita Cassidy, Executive Director of Burlington Economic Development is thrilled to bring this program to Burlington. “The Digital Main Street funding will provide our small business community with capital they urgently need to recover from COVID-19 and prepare to thrive well into the future.” She continued, “Burlington small businesses make up 65% of our business base, and supporting them is a priority for Team Burlington. BERN has worked diligently over the last several months to really understand what our business community needs to get through this difficult time, so we are very proud to bring this program to support businesses and help them go digital.”

Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward also commented on the program and how it will keep businesses moving forward during these unprecedented times. “Over the last several months, BERN has worked to remove some of the barriers businesses have been facing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic – assisting manufacturers to retool and connecting businesses with federal and provincial resources. I’m very pleased to see Digital Main Street Ontario coming to our community to help us all in our continued efforts to support our small local businesses. This funding will go a long way in assisting our small business owners who are facing unforeseen pressures to go digital in a very short amount of time. It’s great that with this program, we’ll be able to help them do just that.”

Established in 2018, Digital Main Street Ontario was recently 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 Ontario Ministry for Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade (MEDJCT). The nearly $50-million investment will help small businesses across Ontario to 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 to Ontario’s main street small businesses.

Digital Service Squads are fundamental to Digital Main Street’s design and success, with trained specialists who meet with small businesses, 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 for 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 Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario congratulated Burlington on the launch of the program. “Ontario’s small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and the keystone of our economic recovery. 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 Burlington on the launch of your Digital Service Squad. 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.”

The Ontario Business Improvement Area Association (OBIAA) is also a key partner on delivering the program to communities across Ontario. “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 Ontario are providing the funding to extend this important program to help businesses in communities like Burlington.”

Interested companies are invited to request more information on Digital Main Street Ontario and the Digital Service Squad program at digitalmainstreet@burlington.ca.

 

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ABOUT the Burlington Economic Recovery Network

The Burlington Economic Recovery Network (BERN) is a joint initiative between Burlington’s 5 business support organizations, known as Team Burlington. Team Burlington is comprised of Burlington Economic Development, the Burlington Chamber of Commerce, Burlington Downtown Business Association, Aldershot Village BIA, and Tourism Burlington. BERN brings together key stakeholders and business leaders from across Burlington to help develop a recovery strategy that will prepare our economy for recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. The impacts of the global pandemic are already being felt locally and there is a strong need to align economic stakeholders and business support groups to position Burlington for short and long-term economic recovery.

ABOUT Burlington Economic Development

Burlington Economic Development has a mandate to enhance the growth prospects of existing companies and bring new high-value firms to the community. Burlington Economic Development’s focus is on growing the economic base to sustain Burlington’s competitive and prosperous community. Burlington Economic Development is the first point of contact for companies looking to expand, start-up or locate in Burlington.

ABOUT OBIAA

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 funding from FedDev Ontario and the Ontario Ministry for Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade (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 Ontario, 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

 

Media Contact:

Claire Green

Manager, Marketing and Attraction

Burlington Economic Development

Claire.Green@burlington.ca

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