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Digital Service Squad will help Vankleek Hill small businesses with digital transformation

The Vankleek Hill Business and Merchant Association (VKHBMA) has announced that it has received a $9,775 grant from Digital Main Street’s Ontario Grants Program for a Digital Service Squad (DSS), which will provide trained digital specialists to local small businesses to help them adopt online technologies and digitally transform their sales, marketing and back-office operations.

The squad began visiting and contacting businesses in Vankleek Hill and L’Orignal in August and the campaign will continue through September and October.

“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,” said Louise Sproule, President of the Vankleek Hill Business and Merchant Association. “Small business owners are always busy and having help to move ahead in digital directions is meeting a demand on everyone’s wish list.”

Renewed funding of $12.37 million for the Digital Main Street’s Ontario Grants Program (OGP) from Ontario’s Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade (MEDJCT) and the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev) includes $3 million for the Digital Service Squad program and $7.5 million to provide 3,000 Digital Transformation Grants to qualified brick-and-mortar small businesses. The OGP is administrated by the Ontario BIA Association, in partnership with the Toronto Association of BIAs (TABIA).

“Ontario small businesses are the heart of our neighbourhoods and the economic foundation of our communities,” said Nina Tangri, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction. “Our government is committed to being there for them as they reopen.”

“This additional support will give these businesses the digital boost they need to raise their profile and rebuild better than ever.”

The cornerstone of Digital Main Street, these squads consist of trained specialists who meet with brick-and-mortar small businesses at no cost to help them complete an online assessment and introduce them to online training modules to build their knowledge and skills. These experts can also assist businesses with developing their Digital Transformation Plan (DTP) and applying for a one-time $2,500 grant to implement it.

This one-on-one DSS assistance also includes support for basic website set-up, Google My Business profiles, 360º photos, social media presence, and much more. The DSS can also provide information on the ShopHERE program, if applicable, to assist with digital storefront set-up and e-commerce. Where COVID-19 restrictions are in place, DSS experts can provide support through phone and video tools such as Zoom.

“In the past 17 months, as small businesses across the province fought to stay open and keep customers engaged online, Digital Service Squads were there to help,” said Kay Matthews, Executive Director of OBIAA. “Squads jumped online themselves during lockdowns to help virtually, and businesses have consistently told us how important the DSS were to their success through the pandemic.”

“We are thrilled to support this DSS and help them provide assistance to more small businesses than ever.”

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.

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.