The North Grenville Economic Development Department provided Council with an update regarding the COVID-19 Business Support Programs at the council meeting of June 16, and recommended that they approve $95,000 out of the $150,000 already earmarked for COVID-19 business support for these programs.
The Business Support Programs are the result of the hard work of the North Grenville Economic Development team, as well as the Business Support Group which has representation from Old Town Kemptville BIA, North Grenville Business Builders, Leeds Grenville Small Business Enterprise Centre, Grenville Community Futures Development Corporation, Eastern Ontario Women in Business, and CSE Consulting.
The Municipality has also been working closely with the Economic Development department of the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville, and the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
The largest ticket item outlined is the creation of the Municipality’s Marketing Plan, which will focus on promoting spending in North Grenville as businesses re-open. The request for proposal has been advertised and the $50,000 contract was awarded on June 19.
The Business Support Group came up with a number of other initiatives meant to help the business community during and after this period of local and provincial emergency, some of which have already been put into action. The Love NG website was launched on March 30 with the aim of encouraging North Grenville residents to support local businesses. This website will play an integral role in the Marketing Plan.
The Municipality has also begun to host a series of webinars, meant to educate business owners on topics related to the pandemic. The first three webinars covered business planning, re-opening safely, and available government programs. They are currently working on the next webinar, which will focus on mental health.
The Business Support Group also came up with the idea of creating a coop ad initiative, where they will buy ad space with local advertisers and allow local businesses to purchase the space at a discounted rate. A local currency program called “NG Bucks” will allow people to purchase gift certificates that can be used at North Grenville businesses only. The Group is currently working on the details regarding this program, and the success of the initiative will be measured once it comes into play.
The Group will be working at encouraging industry partners, like the Kemptville District Hospital and the School Boards, to engage in local procurement. This will be an initiative that will come into play when most businesses have reopened. They are also focused on helping businesses with managing the cost and procurement of PPE, and ensuring they have the proper safety protocols in place.
“It’s great to see the results of the collegiality and collaboration between the business groups that came together,” Mayor Nancy Peckford said at the council meeting. “It seems like everyone had their hand in making sure that their ideas and perspectives were shared, and that it was reflected in the good work that our economic development team is doing.”
Councillor John Barclay echoed Mayor Peckford’s comments and mentioned that he would love to see the Group continue to meet on a regular basis, even after the Marketing Plan and other initiatives have been put into play. “It’s unfortunate that it took a pandemic to bring the groups together; but I think it’s really important,” he said. “We’re too small a community to have some of the many business groups not working together.”
Council was unanimous in their decision to allocate the $95,000 to these programs. The other $55,000 budgeted for business support in the COVID-19 Response Reserve will be used to develop future support programs as the needs of businesses change over the next six months.