Whitby, Ontario – The Business Advisory Centre Durham and The Regional Municipality of Durham is pleased to announce additional support for businesses in Durham Region to expand their digital presence, adopt innovative tools and explore new training opportunities through Digital Service Squads, as part of the Digital Main Street (DMS) program.

Established in 2018, DMS 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 Ontario Ministry for Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade (MEDJCT). The nearly $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.

Through DMS, the Business Advisory Centre of Durham (BACD), Downtown Whitby Business Improvement Area (BIA), and the Clarington Board of Trade (CBOT) will provide Durham businesses with free access to the services, supports and resources they need to succeed in today’s digital environment—including advertising and marketing services, web and social media support, content management and customer engagement tools, and more.

The Region is also providing additional funding to augment the program to support businesses that fall outside defined BIA areas or are not located on “main streets”. These businesses should reach out to BACD to learn more about the additional funding programs available.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has widened the digital divide for businesses across Canada, DMS Service Squad teams will ensure small businesses are able to grow, adopt new digital tools and technologies, and establish a digital presence that allows customers to easily access their goods and services.

This region-wide initiative will allow access to one-on-one assistance, training and advisory services, while creating opportunities for employment and post-secondary learning, and advancing partnerships in our local business community.

If you and/or your business is interested in receiving support through DMS, please contact BACDDowntown Whitby BIA, or CBOT.

To learn more about the program, visit DigitalMainStreet.ca

Quotes

“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 Durham Region 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.”

–        The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario

“This is a great service for our local business community and a positive step forward for Durham Region. While businesses have faced many hardships during this unprecedented time, Digital Main Street is a free opportunity for businesses to find the support they need to go digital. I want to thank all parties involved for their countless hours of hard work and ongoing efforts to help keep Durham strong.”

–          John Henry, Regional Chair and CEO, Region of Durham

“A digital transformation is taking place across Ontario, and we’re proud to be a part of an innovative program that supports Durham’s main streets and local small businesses. Durham’s new Digital Service Squad is working together to ensure all of Durham Region’s businesses are covered by the Digital Main Street program. We’re encouraging all local businesses to reach out for support and to apply for the Digital Transformation Grant. This is an amazing opportunity to find the support you need while creating opportunities for local employment, and supporting Durham’s growing economy.”

–        Simon Gill, Director of Economic Development, Region of Durham

“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 municipalities like Durham Region.”

–        Kay Matthews, Executive Director, Ontario Business Improvement Area Association (OBIAA)

“The Business Advisory Centre Durham is excited to continue with this program in Durham Region, and to have the additional funding from the Region of Durham to support our local businesses with their digital transformation. Digital adoption and transformation is imperative for businesses to succeed in these times, and we are here to help them every step of the way.”

–        Teresa Shaver, Executive Director, Business Advisory Centre Durham

“The Downtown Whitby BIA is honoured to have been awarded the contract to administer the Digital Main Street program for our Downton Whitby BIA members. Recognizing that COVID-19 has impacted so many, we look forward to working closely with our valued business community to help them increase their digital presence.”

–        Karey Anne Large, Executive Director, Downtown Whitby BIA

“Through our partnerships with the BIAs in Clarington, we look forward to helping small businesses connect to resources that can elevate their digital presence through this timely and invaluable project. Not only will it support economic recovery as a result of the pandemic, it will provide businesses with the tools they need to sustain a digital platform long-term.”

–        Sheila Hall, Executive Director & Economic Development Officer, Clarington Board of Trade

DMS Success Stories

“Anja of Sweden has been in business for 35 years. Anyone that works with or for us has to have passion and be amazing at their job. I can recommend [utilizing a] Digital Service Squad, 100 per cent. They are passionate, understanding and willing to do anything to help. I highly recommend this program.”

–        Anja Shaw, Owner, Anja of Sweden, Port Perry

“Working with a very knowledgeable internet technician from the Digital Main Street program has been a huge learning curve for me. It has given me the tools to move upward and forward with my business in the digital world. I highly recommend it.”

–        Anyes Margrain, Owner, Inspired by You, Whitby

“I found the program to be very worthwhile. The end result of putting our store online has been on my ‘to do list’ for quite some time and it is almost complete. The Digital Service Squad is very efficient, helpful and timely in replying. They helped me finish the grant and get it in on time. I was very surprised at the quick turn-around. During the process, they were very supportive and continue to check in on a regular basis following up on our progress.”

–        Karen Lowery, Owner, Terrens Wellness Centre, Orono (Clarington)

Quick Facts

  • DMS is focused on assisting main street small businesses with their adoption of technologies—providing one-on-one assistance to small businesses, including training, advisory support, and a grant to support Durham’s Digital Service Squads. Through a partnership with FedDev Ontario and the Province of Ontario, various grant opportunities are available to enable this digital transformation process.
  • The Digital Transformation Grant program provides funding for training, advisory support, and grants to main street small businesses looking increase their capacity through digital transformation. For more information or to apply, visit DigitalMainStreet.ca/OntarioGrants.
  • The Region is contributing $80,000 to the program to augment the services available, and expand the program to more small businesses outside of main street areas, in partnership with BACD.
  • The Region previously announced joining DMS ShopHere, which provides independent businesses and artists an opportunity to develop an online store, free of charge, with specific branding, messaging, digital marketing, shipping and inventory management.
  • The Region is working with the Durham Economic Task Force, all eight area municipalities, Business Improvement Areas (BIAs), Business Advisory Centre Durham (BACD), all Durham Chambers and Boards of Trade, Durham College, Ontario Tech University, and Trent University Durham GTA to support the delivery of various programs to eligible businesses in Durham Region. For more information, visit InvestDurham.ca/CovidResponse.

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