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Businesses need to adapt quickly – economic development minister

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Shady Salah – Media in Toronto
A new report has been released to underline the importance of the “Digital Main Street Ontario Second Expansion” to small businesses as COVID-19 continues to put more pressure on economy and business community, while the economic development minister said businesses need to adapt quickly in a rapidly changing marketplace. The Ontario BIA Association (OBIAA), in partnership with the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA), has released the October 2020 Digital Main Street Progress Report, in part to celebrate Small Business Week and to highlight the continuing success of Digital Main Street Ontario in helping businesses survive the ongoing pandemic by adopting digital technologies and e-commerce.
The report looks at the months since March 2020 and how Digital Main Street Ontario is contributing to the economic recovery of the province’s main street small businesses. The program, created by TABIA, was first expanded as a result of funding provided by the Government of Ontario through the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs in 2018.  This successful initiative was subsequently extended in June 2020 by the Government of Canada through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) and Ontario’s Ministry for Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade (MEDJCT).  The DMS Ontario grant program for main street small businesses is administrated by the Ontario BIA Association (OBIAA).
“COVID-19 has underscored the importance for businesses to be able to pivot and adapt quickly in a rapidly changing marketplace,” said Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade. “The innovative tools, technologies and supports offered through the Digital Main Street Grant run by the OBIAA are helping Ontario businesses adjust to the new realities of doing business during the pandemic and moving into the next phase of our economic recovery.
“As the impacts of the pandemic continue to play out on Ontario’s economy, we’re seeing that our efforts to support main streets are working,” said the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario.  “Small businesses are taking advantage of the Digital Main Street program which FedDev Ontario helped to expand with an investment of $42.5 million in the wake of COVID-19. These businesses are now finding ways to stay open, do business online, become better-equipped for the future, and build resilience to come back stronger than ever.”The pandemic has hit Ontario’s main street small businesses the hardest.
Digital Main Street had and continues to have a profound impact on the ability of the 15,000 participating businesses to survive and even thrive, and this report looks at how businesses were better positioned to respond to the crisis as a result of DMS training, grants and support. Through the 2020 expansion, Digital Main Street continues to help ensure many of the province’s main street small businesses will continue to successfully navigate the pandemic with the digital capabilities and tools needed to stay open and keep revenue flowing.

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