As we begin the second year of the pandemic and enter yet another provincial shutdown, one level of government has clearly demonstrated its commitment to our local business community. Acknowledging the contributions of our provincial and federal governments, our local municipal government in North Grenville has provided distinguished financial support for our local economy by investing $150,000 in Covid recovery and business support initiatives in 2020.
Some of these support initiatives have included: the NG Green local currency program, the co-op local ad buying program, the free business webinar series, the LoveNG marketing strategy, campaign and website, and the North Grenville Small Business Grant program. All of these programs were locally funded by our lower-tier municipal government. Many of these successful programs have been renewed and some are even being enhanced for 2021.
As part of our twice weekly conference calls with other members of the Ontario Business Improvement Area Association (the parent organization for all Ontario BIAs), many conversations have focused on the efforts of various levels of government to support the businesses of Ontario. It appears that we are very fortunate here in North Grenville, as few municipalities in Ontario are supporting their business communities to the extent that North Grenville is.
During these same calls, any conversation around municipal support received by the local business communities appears to be coming solely from the lower-tier municipal governments (North Grenville) and not the upper-tier municipal governments (United Counties of Leeds and Grenville).
Despite considerable financial resources at their disposal, which has been contributed to by the ten member municipalities (North Grenville is the largest financial contributor and has the largest number of businesses in Leeds & Grenville), the UCLG have made no significant financial investments in support of the businesses of Leeds and Grenville Counties.
One idea that the UCLG could provide financial support for, would be a grant program for small-to-medium sized tourism and hospitality-based businesses in Leeds and Grenville. Though this would not help all businesses, it would help the businesses that appear to have been impacted the most severely, and would support one of the largest employment sectors in Leeds and Grenville.
Another idea could be to create and fund a special program that would offer free support for Leeds & Grenville businesses in the areas of finance, marketing and mental health. Building a team of experts that businesses could access for free advice and insight on a limited basis could provide some much-needed relief. Helping businesses make the best decisions possible during these challenging times could be potentially game-changing for many.
Now, on the heels of the most recent province-wide shutdown, would be the perfect time for the UCLG to step forward to provide this kind of meaningful financial investment to support the many businesses who have not only directly funded the UCLG, but who they are also supposed to serve. Fingers crossed.