WELLINGTON COUNTY – The northern Wellington partnership of the Township of Mapleton, Wellington North and the Minto Chamber of Commerce announced Sept. 21 that they have received a $26,695 grant from Digital Main Street (DMS) to fund a Digital Service Squad to help downtown small businesses across northern Wellington County to improve their online capabilities. Funding for the grant is provided by FedDev Ontario, a federal government program.
“This is great news for northern Wellington, and we are excited by this opportunity to assist main street small businesses” said Mapleton economic development coordinator Aly Cripps, spokesperson for the partnership. “A vibrant downtown is key to a strong community and because of this grant we will be able to provide our businesses with the opportunity to take advantage of trained specialists who can teach them how to use new technologies and provide tools and training in order to stay competitive in today’s digital world.”
Established in 2018, the Digital Main Street program has already made a difference to small businesses in many communities during COVID and with this new round of funding both Minto and Wellington North will be able to continue to provide this support while Mapleton will be offering the service for the first time.
The Ontario BIA Association administers the DMS grant program to Ontario’s main street small businesses. Fundamental to DMS’s design are Digital Service Squads, trained specialists who meet with small businesses, at no cost, to help them improve their online presence. The squads assist with activities, including developing a Google My Business profile, enhancing client’s social media presence, and providing support for basic website and e-commerce set-up. 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).
Harriston resident Ashley Noble has has been hired as the Digital Main Street specialist to lead the Northern Wellington Digital Service Squad. Noble will graduate from the Business Marketing Program at Conestoga College later this year and started in this position on Sept. 21.
“We are thrilled that the Federal Government and OBIAA are investing $26,695 to help our local main street businesses use digital technologies to re-emerge from COVID-19 more successful and resilient than ever. Our downtown businesses attract visitors, create jobs, support families, and make life better for everyone who calls northern Wellington County home,” said mayors Andy Lennox (Wellington North), George Bridge (Minto) and Gregg Davidson (Mapleton) in a joint statement.