Skip to content

New fund helping businesses survive, retain local jobs

COVID-19 Technology Adoption Fund helping small and medium-sized businesses
Stock image

With the goal of helping small- and medium-sized businesses get through the challenges of the pandemic, NEOnet has announced a new COVID-19 Technology Adoption Fund.

The program, supported by FedNor, will help businesses acquire digital technology, marketing, and e-business solutions to ensure survivability and retain local jobs. It will last for nine months.

“What is happening now is that the whole interaction between business owner, or service provider, and their clients, or potential clients, is no longer face-to-face as easily as it was six months ago,” said Paul Ouimette, NEOnet’s director of operations.

“The COVID-19 Technology Adoption Fund will help businesses maybe enhance what they’ve had, that they really never thought of before.

“For example, many businesses might have a simple webpage, but they never really turned on the online shopping capabilities.

“With the COVID-19 Technology Adoption Fund, there’s an opportunity to help not just businesses, but also startups, as well as Indigenous communities, and municipalities, to try to help them leverage digital technology and online e-business and online marketing, to help them survive and hopefully continue a cash flow, or engage with their constituents and their residents during these trying times.”

The program will provide funding up to $10,000, with a minimum contribution of 25 per cent from the applicant, towards the project.

The COVID-19 Technology Adoption Fund will also provide guidance and assistance.

“This opportunity is short lived,” Ouimette said.

“It’s not forever. The window of opportunity is that we must have it completed by the end of March 2021.

“We allow up to three months to complete a project, which means that by the end of December, if someone is interested in applying for these funds, their application should be in and approved, so they get a full three months to make the investments, and make the implementations they planned.”

NEOnet has outlined six main categories for projects or initiatives that could be funded — productivity, financial management, marketing, collaboration and learning, customer service and mobile working and telecommuting.

“We’re trying to be as broad as possible to help a business,” Ouimette said.

For some examples, marketing could be as straightforward as a social media campaign.

Productivity could be getting an online payment system up and running.

Financial management could be the transition to an online cloud-based accounting, financial, inventory, or logistics software program, to combat physical distancing challenges in workplaces.

Throughout the pandemic, video conferencing has become essential for many sectors and businesses to hold meetings, and the COVID-19 Technology Adoption Fund can also assist in getting team subscriptions for apps such as Zoom

“You have some people working from home, or all of your people working from home, and right now you might be doing it through email, and that’s not the most effective way to engage and stay connected,” Ouimette said.

“You may want to consider doing a Webex, or a Microsoft Teams, or a Zoom session.

“All of a sudden, you can be real-time with your people, with both voice and video.”

Ouimette noted the COVID-19 Technology Adoption Fund application process is very straightforward.

“We’re trying to make it easy enough, but we are trying to get a little bit of opportunity to know how this is going to help you,” he said.

“Because it’s not about just buying technology because there is funding available to make it less expensive for the business, the goal is to try to make sure that you can survive the pandemic and hopefully NEOnet will have a chance to help you along that path with what we're offering now.”

NEOnet is a non-profit support agency for northeastern Ontario.

It covers a vast territory from the north on Highway 11 near Hearst and Constance Lake First Nation, south to Temagami.

It includes the James Bay Coast, Peawanuck, Moosonee, and Moose Factory.

It provides assistance in the major areas, including outreach and education, grant and subsidy applications, and the enhancement of digital communications, both cellular and broadband.

Ouimette is proud of this partnership between NEOnet and FedNor.

“It’s the federal government that has stepped up, realizing how, although we may have challenges with communications, and access to the Internet, that’s just a fact, at least we can do other things to try to help people along that path,” he said.

Reader Feedback

Andrew Autio

About the Author: Andrew Autio

Andrew Autio covers civic matters under the Local Journalism Initiative out of the Timmins Daily Press, which is funded by the Government of Canada
Read more