INNOVATION FACTORY AND REGIONAL PARTNERS HELP MAIN STREET BUSINESSES TO GO DIGITAL
During one of the most challenging years for so many businesses, a $42.5 million investment was deployed through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) to Digital Main Street (DMS) to support small- and medium-sized enterprises across the province.
In September 2020, Innovation Factory began working closely with partners throughout the region, spanning Brant County, Haldimand-Norfolk, and the City of Hamilton, to support over 400 businesses by launching several Community Collaboration Projects.
Though the Digital Main Street Future Proofing Main Street Community Collaboration Program came to a close in June 2021, these projects will continue to support our gradual re-opening and economic recovery in the months to come.
The program was focused on bringing together community members to collaboratively identify and solve one or more local main street challenges. In southwestern Ontario alone, there were 8000+ businesses served with Future Proof programming in only 10 months.
RESTAURANT ECOMMERCE PROJECT
Pavement (formerly Curbside Pivot), a Hamilton-based online ordering platform for restaurants and bakeries received support from Innovation Factory and partners to launch the ‘Hamilton eatCommerce Pilot’. Over the past year, Pavement has saved local food vendors $1.5M and customers $1.1M in fees charged by most third-party platforms. Food vendors save on service fees and customers are able to ‘support local’ directly, without having to go through popular third-party food ordering apps which often take a large sum of the vendor’s profits.
“We wanted to support a local online ordering solution for restaurants and bakeries that didn’t require them to pay an upfront or monthly fee,” says Karen Linseman, Director of Operations at Innovation Factory. “And with Pavement’s industry experience and very high standards, we know they will continue to work closely with each food vendor to make sure their online presence is optimized to help increase revenue.”
Interested food vendors can contact [email protected] for more information.
HAMILTON’S RAPID TESTING PROGRAM
Hamilton’s Rapid Testing program delivered by The Hamilton Chamber of Commerce is contributing to a safe return to work. A priority for business owners, their employees and the community, Hamilton-based small and medium businesses employees can navigate the transition safely as we gradually re-open the City and province. Businesses (including non-Chamber members) with 150 employees or less can participate in this program and access free rapid testing kits for their employees. Please visit ‘Hamilton Rapid Testing’ on the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce website here for more information on how to participate.
In early spring, Innovation Factory partnered with Norfolk County Economic Development to provide some funding assistance for two major digital projects. With the help of this program funding, Norfolk County has begun onboarding their local businesses to both a digital marketplace platform and a mobile tourism app called ‘Visit Norfolk’.
“Supporting Norfolk County’s small businesses with digital tools and technologies is a key priority of our Economic Recovery Plan. The Digital Main Street Community Collaboration Program has transformed the speed with which we are able to deploy our key platforms, and made it possible for us to expand the level of support available to the small business community,” says Zvi Lifshiz, Director of Strategic Innovation and Economic Development for Norfolk County.
BRANTFORD-BRANT & PARIS PROJECTS
Innovation Factory partnered with the Brantford-Brant Business Resource Enterprise Centre to provide more than 34 businesses with a one-year subscription to ShopBrantford.com, a Brantford digital marketing platform and directory.
Earlier this year, a partnership with the Paris and District Chamber of Commerce allowed for the release of free Covid-19 safety plan templates to help businesses safely reopen.
HOMETOWN HUB PROJECT
Hometown Hub, an online directory that provides free digital listings and profile pages for Hamilton’s small businesses received support from Innovation Factory and partners. The funding helped accelerate the addition of more main street businesses onto the platform. Hometown Hub encourages local consumers to “Shop Hamazon, Not Amazon”. Visit hometownhub.ca to explore more of what ‘The Hub’ has to offer and support local.
DIGITAL MAIN STREET RESOURCES
Support from DMS continues and the following resources are still available. We encourage main street and small businesses to leverage them while they can:
- The ShopHERE program to create online stores for independent small businesses and artists at no cost
- DMS courses explore Digital Transformation, strategies for Relaunching Your Business and more. Courses are completely free and accessible
- DMS Vendor Directory is a wide range of digital vendors who look forward to working with small businesses and helping them become digital-ready
- DMS webinars and events
Other resources include:
- Resources for businesses in Ontario
- Other Federal programs to help your business
- Business advisory and acceleration services
ABOUT INNOVATION FACTORY
Innovation Factory is a business accelerator, dedicated to helping Ontario-based businesses launch, scale, and succeed. Innovation Factory provides start-ups, and scaling companies with advisory services, training, mentorship, and strategic connections to help bring disruptive technologies to market, leverage intellectual property, increase revenues, attract investment, and create jobs.
ABOUT DIGITAL MAIN STREET
Digital Main Street is a program that helps main street businesses achieve digital transformation. The program is built around an online learning platform, structured training programs, and our Digital Service Squad, a team of street-level team members who help main street businesses grow and manage their operations through technology. Digital Main Street was created by the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA) with direct support from the City of Toronto. DMS is also supported by a group of strategic business partners, including Google, Mastercard, Shopify, Microsoft, Facebook, Intuit QuickBooks, Square and Yellow Pages.
A $42.5-million investment from FedDev Ontario and an additional $7.45 million from the Government of Ontario brought together the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas, Communitech, Invest Ottawa, and the Ontario Business Improvement Area Association to expand the Digital Main Street Platform in order to support more businesses to go digital as a response to the impacts of COVID-19.