September 8, 2021: Mindemoya, ON. The Municipality of Central Manitoulin has announced that it has received a $9,575 grant from Digital Main Street’s Ontario Grants Program (OGP) 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 will begin visiting businesses around Central Manitoulin and the Township of Billings on September 9th, 2021.
“We are very pleased to announce that we received this Digital Service Squad grant again 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. We know that many businesses in Central Manitoulin will be able to utilize this innovative economic development program from Digital Main Street to adapt to the effects of the pandemic and beyond.” - Mayor Richard Stephens, Municipality of Central Manitoulin
“On behalf of Council, I am pleased to see our two municipalities cooperate again in support of our respective business communities. I think it is great that our former Digital Service Squad Specialist, Leah Broekema, is able to join us again in a part-time capacity, and over a longer project period. This, and the fact that more businesses will meet the program criteria, bodes well for Billings businesses to utilize this funding, and improve their online presence.”– Mayor Ian Anderson, Township of Billings.
Renewed government funding of the OGP -- including investment from the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade -- will provide 3,000 Digital Transformation Grants to qualified brick-and-mortar small businesses as well as Digital Service Squad grants for organizations to provide hands-on assistance to local 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 for Ontario. “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 even more small businesses than ever.”
ABOUT Central Manitoulin & The 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 a program that helps main street businesses achieve digital transformation. The program is built around an online learning platform, structured training programs, and our Digital Service Squad, a team of street-level team members who help main street businesses grow and manage their operations through technology.
Digital Main Street was created by the Toronto Association on Business Improvement Areas (TABIA) with direct support from the City of Toronto. DMS is also supported by a group of strategic business partners, including Google, Mastercard, Shopify, Microsoft, Facebook, Intuit QuickBooks, Square, and Yellow Pages. www.digitalmainstreet.ca