MINTO – Economic development manager Belinda Wick-Graham told councillors here plans are in the works to assist local businesses through what is expected to be a difficult first quarter of 2021.
“The next quarter, from January to March, is a hard time for business already, but it will be even harder this year,” due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, said Wick Graham at the Dec. 15 council meeting.
The Minto Chamber of Commerce and LaunchIt Business Exploration Centre have partnered with the Saugeen Economic Development Corporation to assist in the delivery of a Business Resurgence Program, a free consulting program for local small businesses.
“We’re really excited with the launch of this Business Resurgence Program,” said Wick-Graham.
“We are going to be rolling out a digital coaching person. People can apply and they get five hours of the digital coach’s time to help them actually get very familiar and have a plug-and-play virtual presence.”
Businesses may also apply to meet with business coach Harold Devries for two hours of coaching time as well, Wick-Graham noted.
“Further down the road were going to have more announcements about women’s programming and succession programming coming out of of our Saugeen Connects partnership – so lots of great programs coming up for businesses here in the next couple of months,” Wick-Graham stated.
Business development coordinator Sommer Antonopoulos updated the Minto economic development and planning committee on LaunchIt Minto plans at a meeting on Dec. 10.
Enhancements to the LaunchIt location at One Elora Street in Harriston include updated window screens and signage that will include separate sections branded with Minto Chamber of Commerce and new LaunchIt branding.
Antonopoulos reported LaunchIt hosted 20 virtual business training events with 515 total participants.
She also told the committee that LaunchIt has become a businesses resource spot for information and assistance in northern Wellington “just as it is intended.”
Several new occasional rental opportunities are being explored at the LaunchIt facility.
Antonopoulos noted that LaunchIt will be aggressively promoting its partners’ training opportunities that are available in 2021 such as: Business Centre Guelph Wellington, Saugeen Economic Development Corporation, and the Makers’ Collective.
Antonopoulos said Ashley Noble, Digital Service Squad resource person for northern Wellington, has done an “exceptional” job.
Over 50 businesses were successful in applications for provincial Digital Transformation Grants.
“That’s $2,500 that will help our businesses get online and enhance their online presence,” said Wick-Graham.
Noble’s position will continue until the end of April and she will be offering one-on-one support and assistance to businesses until the end of her contract.
Antonopoulos also reviewed the Minto Chamber of Commerce’s activity and plans.
The 2021-2023 chamber executive has been confirmed and the organization’s annual general meeting will be held virtually on Feb. 1.
Heather Watterworth is the incoming chamber president and Dr. Shawn McDonald will hold the vice-president position.
Lisa Leslie will remain secretary and Noble (assisted by Bonnie Cowan) will be the treasurer.