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Brant County Receives A Grant To Help Downtown Small Businesses

The County received a $29,680 grant from Digital Main Street Ontario to put towards a Digital Service Squad, which will help small businesses downtown use digital technologies to adapt to a rapidly changing environment.

BRANT COUNTY - Brant County has received a $29,680 grant from Digital Main Street Ontario.

The money is for a Digital Service Squad (DSS) to help small businesses downtown use digital technologies to adapt to a rapidly changing environment. 

The County is partnering with three different organizations to oversee the squad, including the Downtown Paris BIA and the St. George Business Association. Federal program FedDev Ontario is providing funding for the grant.

Director of Economic Development and Tourism Russell Press says the new round of funding comes after receiving a grant for $20,000 last year.

“We are so thankful for this second round of funding. We received a $20,000 grant in 2019 to begin helping local companies. The additional funding will allow small businesses across the County to continue pivoting their operations to include online business models, regain lost revenue and become more resilient and competitive as the economy recovers. This funding and support will be a game changer for many of our small businesses.”

Digital Main Street Ontario was established in 2018 and has received 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 investment of nearly $50-million will help small businesses across the province. The Ontario BIA Association manages the DMS grant program to Ontario’s main street small businesses.

Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, The Honourable Mélanie Joly says small business are a part of Ontario's economic recovery.

“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 the County of Brant 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 assist qualified small businesses through the application process for a $2,500 Digital Transformation Grant as well, which includes an online assessment, online training modules and the development of a Digital Transformation Plan (DTP).

Executive Director of OBIAA, Kay Matthews says the program is needed more than ever due to the pandemic.

“The COVID-19 pandemic hit Ontario’s main streets hard, so Digital Main Street is needed more than ever. 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 across the County of Brant.”

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