Central Manitoulin and the Township of Billings Launch Digital Service Squad to Help Small Businesses Adopt Online Technologies

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Receives $12,000 Digital Main Street Grant

October 13, 2020:  Mindemoya, ON.  In partnership with the Township of Billings, the Municipality of Central Manitoulin has received a $12,000 grant from Digital Main Street, Ontario, for a Digital Service Squad (DSS) to help small downtown businesses use digital technologies to adapt to a rapidly changing environment. Funding for the grant is provided by the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade (MEDJCT). The squad member will begin visiting small businesses in Mindemoya, Providence Bay, Kagawong and Manitoulin Island this fall.

“We are very pleased to announce that we received this Digital Service Squad grant in conjunction with the Township of Billings. Sharing resources and cooperation among Manitoulin Island communities is key to the long-term success of our area. The Digital Main Street program is an innovative economic development program that will assist in the digital transformation of many businesses, allowing them to use new technologies and adapt to the new realities we are all facing now and into the future.” - Mayor Richard Stephens, Municipality of Central Manitoulin

I think the Digital Service Squad will be a very useful support to some of the key businesses in the Township of Billings, especially during this time of pandemic-related economic uncertainty. The fact that we were able to successfully apply in collaboration with our neighbouring municipality, Central Manitoulin, just makes the whole initiative more appealing.” – Mayor Ian Anderson, Township of Billings.

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 Ontario. The nearly $50-million investment will help small businesses across Ontario pivot their operations to include online business models, regain lost revenue, and become more resilient and competitive as the economy recovers. The Ontario Business Improvement Area Association (OBIAA) administers the program to Ontario’s main street small businesses. 

“I am proud to have launched this joint federal-provincial investment with Minister Joly as part of our COVID-19 small business recovery strategy. Helping Main Street get back on its feet starts with supporting local small businesses to grow and adapt to today’s world,” said Prabmeet Sarkaria, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction. “Local Digital Service Squads will provide the tools and support that small businesses need to rebuild and transition. When small businesses succeed, Ontario succeeds.”

“Providing businesses with the tools they need to adapt, recover and grow is a key part of our economic recovery plan throughout reopening and into the future,” said Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade. “The Digital Main Street Program is just one example of how Ontario’s recovery will be driven by innovation.”

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 the company’s social media presence and providing support for basic website and e-commerce set-up. The 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. We’re excited that MEDJCT and FedDev Ontario are providing the funding to extend this important program to help businesses in communities across Central Manitoulin.”

ABOUT the Municipality of Central Manitoulin/Township of Billings

Manitoulin Island is one of Ontario’s top northern tourism destinations, with its population over quadrupling with seasonal residents and tourists in the summer season.  The towns of Kagawong, Mindemoya and Providence Bay are among the top visited locations.

The Municipality of Central Manitoulin is at the heart of Manitoulin Island and offers a lifestyle and experiences you won’t find in many other places these days. Authentic small-town life still happens here, pristine lakes are common and proud family farms dot the countryside. Central Manitoulin also hosts two large towns, the commercial hub of Mindemoya, ON and the historic town of Providence Bay, ON that boasts a 2 km long ocean-like sand beach on the Lake Huron coastline.

The Township of Billings occupies the north central portion of Manitoulin Island, and the municipal hub is the hamlet of Kagawong, site of Bridal Veil Falls, one of Manitoulin’s premier attractions. The falls and associated trails, waterfront, and unique Main Street shops mean that Kagawong receives 1000’s of visitors in the peak season between mid-June and early September.


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 funding from FedDev Ontario and the Ontario Ministry for Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade (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 Ontario, 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.

Media Contact:

Marcus Mohr
Community Development/Outreach Coordinator
Municipality of Central Manitoulin
Phone: 705-377-5726
Fax: 705-377-5585

A Little About Central

The Municipality of Central Manitoulin is located in the centre of Manitoulin Island with an abundance of lakes, rivers, and beaches. The Municipality includes the villages and hamlets of Mindemoya, Providence Bay, Spring Bay, Sandfield and Big Lake. We offer diverse attractions and unique landmarks such as our sandy beach in Providence Bay or access to Lake Manitou, the largest lake on the island. We invite you to visit our community in the "heart" of Manitoulin Island. 

Find out more...

On The Map