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Vankleek Hill launches Digital Service Squad to help small businesses adopt online technologies

The Vankleek Hill Business and Merchant Association (VKHBMA) has received a $10,000 grant from Digital Main Street Ontario for a Digital Service Squad (DSS) to help small main street businesses in the region use digital technologies to adapt to a rapidly changing environment.  Funding for the grant is provided by the federal FedDev Ontario.

“Having someone on our team to visit businesses and to help them apply for funds to move ahead with digital initiatives is a tremendous boost for the small enterprises in our town. Small business owners are always busy and having help to move ahead in digital directions is meeting a demand on everyone’s wish list,” said Louise Sproule, President of the Vankleek Hill Business and Merchant Association.”

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 Ministry for Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade (MEDJCT). The almost $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.

“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,” said the  Honourable lanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario.  “Congratulations to Vankleek Hill 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.”

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 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 MEDJCT are providing the funding to extend this important program to help small main street businesses in communities like Vankleek Hill.”

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ABOUT the Vankleek Hill Business and Merchant Association

The Vankleek Hill Business and Merchant Association is a not-for-profit group of Vankleek Hill business owners who network, organize events, promote shop-local initiatives, work on beautification and meet for self-improvement and business training. The organization celebrated its 25th anniversary recently.

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 a funding from FedDev Ontario and 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 MEDJCT, 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

Louise Sproule

Louise Sproule has been the publisher of The Review since 1992. A part-time job after high school at The Review got Sproule hooked on community newspapers and all that they represent. She loves to write, has covered every kind of event you can think of, loves to organize community events and loves her small town and taking photographs across the region. She dreams of writing a book one day so she can finally tell all of the town's secrets! She must be stopped! Keep subscribing to The Review . . . or else!

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