The North Eastern Ontario Communications Network (NEOnet) has received a $78,750 grant from Digital Main Street Ontario and has been selected as the region’s Digital Service Squad (DSS) to help small main street businesses in the region use digital technologies to adapt to a rapidly changing environment. Funding for the grant is provided by the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade (MEDJCT).
“We are truly excited to help businesses across Northeastern Ontario develop and strengthen their online solutions and take advantage of the Ontario Grants to help them grow,” said Paul Ouimette, Director of Operations for NEONet. “Digital Main Street’s offerings will enhance their online marketing and technology solutions to create a strong online presence.”
Established in 2018, Digital Main Street 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 Ontario. The nearly $50-million investment will help small businesses across Ontario pivot their operations to include online business models, regain lost revenue, and become more resilient and competitive as the economy recovers. The Ontario Business Improvement Area Association (OBIAA) administers the program to Ontario’s main street small businesses.
“I am proud to have launched this joint federal-provincial investment with Minister Joly as part of our COVID-19 small business recovery strategy. Helping Main Street get back on its feet starts with supporting local small businesses to grow and adapt to today’s world,” said Prabmeet Sarkaria, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction. “Local Digital Service Squads will provide the tools and support that small businesses need to rebuild and transition. When small businesses succeed, Ontario succeeds.”
“Providing businesses with the tools they need to adapt, recover and grow is a key part of our economic recovery plan throughout reopening and into the future,” said Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade. “The Digital Main Street Program is just one example of how Ontario’s recovery will be driven by innovation.”
Digital Service Squads are fundamental to Digital Main Street’s design and success, with trained specialists who meet with small businesses, at no cost, to help them improve their online presence. The squads assist with a number of activities, including developing a Google My Business profile, enhancing the company’s social media presence and providing support for basic website and e-commerce set-up. The 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).
“The COVID-19 pandemic hit Ontario’s main streets hard, so Digital Main Street is needed more than ever,” said Kay Matthews, Executive Director of OBIAA. “We know that businesses that participated in Digital Main Street last year were better able to cope when the pandemic hit. We’re excited that FedDev Ontario and Ontario are providing the funding to extend this important program to help businesses in communities across northeastern Ontario.”
NEOnet will work with the communities in the region to reach to assist them reach their full potential as a small business in Northern Ontario. For the Digital Transformation Grant, businesses have until Nov. 30, 2020, to complete their registration and mandatory online training and to submit their Transformation Plan to Digital Main Street.