County moving forward with $200,000 plan to assist with business recovery

WELLINGTON COUNTY – Development of an action plan to help Wellington County businesses recover from COVID-19 pandemic impacts is moving ahead.

A recommendation from the economic development committee to approve business retention and expansion (BRE) actions was approved at the Feb. 25 county council meeting.

The plan, based on information from a county-wide survey of local business impacts, will utilize $200,000 in BRE recovery funding from the county’s 2021 budget to implement the plan.

The focus will be on four key areas: operating safety, business services, mental health resources for businesses, and shop local and promote Wellington County.

“We’re trying to get our $200,000 out there where it will get the most bang for the buck,” said councillor George Bridge, chair of the economic development committee.

The plan allocates $100,000 to operating safety for such actions as development of a PPE grant for local businesses, a list of PPE suppliers and matching grants for physical modifications needed by businesses to operate safely.

A further $50,000 has been allocated to business services such as:

  • business support grants for activities such as graphic design, technology implementation, digital and marketing support;
  • sponsorship to local groups and business support agencies to host workshops for business owners on topics that support COVID-19 recovery;
  • an inventory of “how to” resources for businesses to support website development, social media skills, digital marketing and e-commerce;
  • promotion of workshops and seminars on the Wellington County business calendar and social media channels; and
  • a directory of business support services.

The plan will provide mental health resources for businesses through:

  • promotion of mental health webinars and programming;
  • development of a business and workforce social media campaign focusing on positive community stories; and
  • development of a mental health resource listing for the Wellington County website.

The plan allocates $50,000 for a variety of shop local initiatives and promotions.

Ideas under consideration range from themed local shopping campaigns to development of a platform to support and showcase local arts and culture.

The economic development department is also working to make businesses aware of a wide range of federal, provincial and regional programs that provide support to businesses, such as:

  • the Canada Emergency Businesses Account, which provides loans to small businesses of up to $60,000 cover operating costs and 0% interest with a 25% forgivable portion if paid by Dec. 31, 2022; and
  • the Ontario Small Business Support Grant, which provides $10,000 to $20,000 for businesses with less than 100 employees, required to close or restrict services since Dec. 26.