Burlington city council recently unanimously approved a resolution that called on the provincial and federal governments to increase and extend funding for the Digital Main Street program in support of local businesses.
In partnership with the Burlington Economic Recovery Network (BERN) and Team Burlington, the resolution was passed.
The call to the governments is to renew and expand funding to the Digital Main Street program, renew the $2,500 Digital Transformation Grant and Digital Service Squad support, expand the Digital Main Street Transformation Grant to be available to main street businesses located outside of BIAs and commit to a minimum 2-year funding extension to the program.
The resolution, developed in partnership with the Burlington Economic Recovery Network (BERN) and Team Burlington, includes representatives from Tourism Burlington, Burlington Economic Development, Burlington Chamber of Commerce and two business improvement areas; Aldershot Village BIA and the Burlington Downtown Business Association.
Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward and Ward 1 Councillor Kelvin Galbraith sit on the BERN.
The Digital Main Street Program has been major support to local main street businesses during COVID-19 that Team Burlington implemented based on concerns raised by the Burlington Economic Recovery Network.
As part of the program, Burlington hired two Digital Service Squad members who have had over 1,000 touchpoints with businesses as well as supported over 130 businesses to date in growing their digital tools and presence.
Additionally, qualifying businesses have been able to access a $2,500 Digital Transformation Grant to implement digital tools within their business.
When Ontario went into lockdown on December 26, 2020, online and digital channels became the primary method for main street businesses to interact with customers and generate revenues.
Many businesses reached out to Burlington’s Digital Service Squad team for support and advice on online engagement, updates and promoting curbside pickup and takeout.
As of December 31, 2020, applications for the $2,500 Digital Transformation Grant and new applications for Digital Service Squad support have been closed to new applications awaiting the renewal of funding.
On January 20, 2021, a similar resolution was brought forward by Mayor Meed Ward and Councillor Kelvin Galbraith to Halton Regional Council which was unanimously endorsed.
“The Digital Main Street Program is a critical lifeline for many of our businesses,” said Mayor Marianne Meed Ward.
“Now more than ever, our businesses need help to go digital to ride out the continued shutdown. Extending this program, and expanding it to businesses outside of BIA areas, will go a long way to help ensure our small businesses will be there for us on the other side of COVID-19.”