Helping business succeed online | Quinte News
In Belleville and Quinte West, 33 businesses have benefited through Ontario’s Digital Main Street Program and Student Digital Service Squads, a $57-million partnership between the provincial and federal governments designed to expand e-commerce amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Local small businesses requiring assistance to launch and expand their online stores could access $2,500 in government grants, tech-savvy students, and online training to improve their digital presence. Throughout 2020, Belleville businesses benefitted from $85,000 in support. Some 26 businesses received Digital Transformation Grants, while others accessed counselling and student support. Quinte West businesses received $43,750 in support with seven businesses receiving Digital Transformation Grants. Information about program participation in Prince Edward County has yet to be released.
“Our region’s small businesses are the backbone of our economy and our community. By choosing to shop local, we all benefit,” said Todd Smith, MPP for Bay of Quinte. “The Digital Service Squads are helping our businesses transition online, allowing them to access new customers safely and reliable. This will have a positive impact on these businesses during this pandemic and for years to come.”
Students working in this program assess a business’s digital literacy and provide:
- Information on how to access the Digital Main Street digital transformation training program;
- Help in creating a digital transformation plan and applying for and spending the $2,500 Digital Transformation Grant;
- Support to create or update a website and adopt best practices;
- Advice on social media promotion and advertising;
- Technological support and recommendations on tools for specific business needs;
- Advice on additional digital transformation support including loyalty programs, point-of-sale systems, e-commerce and back-end business operations support.
Digital Service Squads across the province are already on track to help thousands of small businesses across Ontario develop their online offerings. This is meeting a critical need for many Ontario businesses as they transition to online storefronts.
Currently, only about 60 per cent of Ontario’s small enterprises have a website and only seven per cent accept online payment. Through Digital Main Street, Ontario’s businesses are adopting new tools that will allow them to reach a wider customer base and help them weather the economic impacts of COVID-19.
- The Ontario 2020 Budget, Ontario’s Action Plan: Protect, Support, Recover outlined more than $13.5 billion in support for people and jobs.
- The Main Street Relief Grant provides up to $1,000 to help eligible small businesses for the cost of personal protective equipment (PPE). The Main Street Relief Grant is available to small businesses with two to nine employees in retail, accommodations and food services, repair and maintenance, and personal and laundry services to help cover personal protective equipment costs.
- Ontario’s Small Business Support Grant provides a minimum of $10,000 to a maximum of $20,000 to eligible small businesses who have had to restrict their operations due to the province-wide shutdown.
- Eligible businesses can apply for more than $600 million in support through the Ontario Small Business Support Grant, Ontario Main Street Relief Grant: PPE Support and temporary property tax and energy cost rebates through a single online application portal at Ontario.ca/covidsupport.