Village shares in Digital Main Street Grant

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Presentation group in Spencerville: from left to right: OBIAA Executive Director Kay Mat- thews; Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes MP Michael Barrett. Leeds Grenville Counties CAO Andy Brown, representing the Counties Economic Development Office; Leeds Grenville Warden Pat Sayeau and MPP Steve Clark.

Merrickville-Wolford is one of thirteen Leeds Grenville municipalities to receive a share in a Digital Main Street (DMS) $127,345 grant to fund Digital Service Squads. Five such squads will be assigned to help area small downtown businesses across the region improve their online capabilities. Funding for the grant is provided by FedDev Ontario, a federal program.

The project is part of an initiative in which the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville, will coordinate the squads on behalf of Merrickville-Wolford, as well as Athens, Elizabethtown-Kitley, Front of Yonge, Rideau Lakes, and Westport, in partnership with Leeds and the Thousand Islands and Gananoque, Prescott, Augusta and Edwardsburgh Cardinal; North Grenville, and Brockville.

Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes MP, Michael Barrett, MPP Steve Clark, Warden Pat Sayeau, OBIAA Executive Director Kay Matthews, along with staff and community members, gathered in downtown Spencerville for the official launch of the Digital Service Squads.

“I’m pleased that our government is helping to fund the Digital Main Street Ontario program as part of our ongoing efforts to support small businesses as the province’s economy continues to recover,” said MPP Clark. “The collaboration between local municipalities and the federal and provincial governments on projects like this one in Leeds Grenville is critical to helping businesses modernize and reach new markets.”

The Digital Main Street Ontario program was first introduced in 2018, and later extended through an investment of $42.5 million from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, and $7.45 million from the Ministry for Economic Development, Job Cre-ation and Trade. The Ontario BIA Association administers the DMS grant program for Ontario’s main street small business.

“Ontario’s small businesses are the backbone of our economy and the keystone of our economic recovery,” said Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario. “That is why we have invested in Digital Main Street to help these enterprises adapt to doing business in a digital world and take advantage of the record number of people shopping online. Congratulations to all the municipalities in Leeds Grenville for partnering together on this initiative. The work you’re doing with small businesses in your community will help keep our main streets vibrant, support good local jobs and help our economy come back strong.”

Digital Service Squads are fundamental to Digital Main Street’s design and success, with trained specialists who meet with small business, at no cost, to help them improve their online presence.

Squads will also assist qualified small businesses through the application process for a $2,500 Digital Transformation Grant.

“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, and we’re excited that FedDev Ontario and MEDJCT are providing the funding to ex- tend this important program to help businesses across the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville.”

For details on the Leeds Grenville program, visit investleedsgrenville.com/digitalmainstreet.

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