Businesses of all shapes and sizes are struggling because of the pandemic, and doubly so now that it’s clear that were into a second wave of COVID-19. Small businesses especially need the extra help, and there are a number of government programs designed to give them a hand. Recently, Guelph MP Lloyd Longfield hosted a virtual gathering of Guelph business people with the government minister responsible for assisting them in this time of need.
A media release touted the positive effects of the $42.5 million spent by FedDev Ontario in June to expanding the Digital Main Street program. So far, more than 140 businesses in Guelph have been assisted by Digital Main Street, which gives local businesses the means to create and enhance their online presence and create digital marketing strategies.
“The Digital Transformation Grant helped up pivot our business at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Sidonio’s and Art of Denim owners Marc and Paul Brombal in a statement. The Brombals are among the numerous entrepreneurs in Guelph who for years have concentrated their business on in-person transactions, and not the online marketplace. When COVID stuck, they had to pivot fast to stay afloat.
“This program changed the way we think about and approach digital solutions to many of the challenges our retail business faces today,” the Brombals added. “This program has helped level the playing field in a competitive e-commerce market that is constantly changing.”
Along with the Digital Transformation Grant, the Digital Main Street program also allows businesses to partner with groups like Communitech and Invest Ottawa to find new markets and new business opportunities. Another program called ShopHERE allows businesses to find a quick, easy way to start selling online without setting up their own digital infrastructure.
“With Government of Canada support, thousands of entrepreneurs across Ontario have adopted and expanded their digital presence,” said Minister of Economic Development Mélanie Joly in a statement. “We believe it is important for the government to make sure that businesses have the tools to not only get through the pandemic, but also be are able to bounce back once our economy fully re-opens. Additionally, we are proud that more than 1,000 students have been provided jobs in the past five months through the Digital Main Street program.”
Another nine businesses in Guelph have combined received $1.8 million from the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund, which provides liquidity for small businesses to help mitigate the effects of COVID-19 not covered by other financial relief measures. According to the Government of Canada, the money from the RRRF has kept more than 100 people on the job through the course of the pandemic.