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Digital Transformation Grants available to more small businesses

Digital Transformation Grants will once again be available to qualifying brick-and-mortar small businesses across Ontario, to help cover the costs of adopting digital tools and technologies.

On Tuesday, Jun. 21, 2022, the Ontario BIA Association (OBIAA), in partnership with the Toronto Association of BIAs (TABIA), announced that the Digital Transformation Grant (DTG) program is now accepting applications. According to a release from the OBIAA, with support from the Government of Ontario, the Digital Transformation Grant (DTG) provides up to $2,500 to qualifying brick-and-mortar small businesses to help cover the cost of adopting digital tools and technologies.

“This is the fourth round of funding that Kingston Economic Development Corporation (EcDev) has been able to offer Kingston businesses as part of the Digital Main Street program,” said Rob Tamblyn, Business Development Manager at Kingston EcDev. “It’s important to remember that the potential for up to $2,500 towards a business’s digital transformation is just one component of the program. There is also the opportunity to assist a business with setting up a free online store, and there are a series of ‘how to’ workshops and seminars that are also offered free as part of the program.”

According to Tamblyn, Kingston EcDev has a Digital Advisor on staff to assist with any questions businesses might have as they navigate through the digital space. “The program really capitalizes on some of the most immediate needs that businesses have, and we’re thrilled that it is continuing for another two years,” he stated.

According to the release, the new application window opened on June 21, 2022, and closes on October 31, 2022. A second application window will open in January 2023 and continue to September 30, 2023 (or until grant funds are fully exhausted), the OBIAA stated, allowing even more qualified small businesses time to apply for the DTG and execute their projects.

“The pandemic really was the catalyst for a large number of businesses who were thinking about doing more online to finally take that leap,” Tamblyn stated. “Digital Main Street allowed us to have the tools and funding that was necessary to help them make that transformation. And, for those who were already in the digital space, the grants and expertise allowed them to expand their offerings and take what they were already doing to another level.”

Commercial small businesses eligible to apply for the DTG must be registered in Ontario, have a brick-and-mortar location, and employ under 50 employees, according to the release. Other eligibility requirements and exceptions can be found on the Digital Main Street website.

“This round of funding is open to businesses who received funding in rounds one and two, and to small businesses that have a brick and mortar location in the greater Kingston area,” Tamblyn explained. “Unfortunately, it’s not open to those who received funding in round three, nor is it open to home-based businesses or franchises. However, I would encourage everyone to have a look at our website (www.investkingston.ca), because even if you don’t qualify for the grant, there are other components of the program that you could qualify for.”

As part of the 2021 Fall Economic Statement, the Government of Ontario committed to an increased investment of $40 million over two years to help Ontario businesses better compete at home and abroad through the renewal of the Digital Main Street program, including the Digital Transformation Grant and the Digital Service Squad Grant, according to the release. Applications for the Digital Service Squad Grant opened in April 2022.

The OBIAA stated that since 2018, over 41,000 businesses have received support from combined federal and provincial funding, and the renewed funding is expected to help 36,000 more businesses raise their digital profile. In May 2022, the Business Development Bank of Canada’s Seize the Technological Advantage study noted that 60 per cent of companies have a website, a jump of 50 per cent in just three years from the number of companies in 2019 cited in a Government of Ontario report.

Tamblyn noted that additional sources of funding can make a huge difference for small businesses. “Kingston Economic Development is always looking at ways that we can support our businesses – currently we can also offer an additional grant of $2,400 under the Canada Digital Adoption Program,” he shared. “For those who qualify, this grant can be added to the Digital Transformation Grant, making up to $4,900 available. Both programs will go a long way in helping businesses better connect digitally to their existing customer base, and also open up new avenues of opportunity.”

For more information on Digital Main Street’s Ontario Grants Program visit www.digitalmainstreet.ca/ontariogrants/.

“The Digital Main Street Ontario Grants Program is a vitally important and immensely valuable resource for small businesses,” said Kay Matthews, Executive Director of the OBIAA. “It is very clear that businesses who took advantage of the DMS program over the past four years are now positioned for a brighter, more optimistic and sustainable future. We look forward to equipping even more small businesses with the knowledge, resources, and training to revitalize their operations with an expanded digital presence.”

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