Hometown Hub is a ‘made-in-Hamilton’ solution to help small businesses stay connected to the community and their customers.
The website, which launched in March 2020, is a one-stop-shop directory platform that provides local businesses with free digital listings and profile pages. It enables consumers to access participating retailers, restaurants and crafts breweries that offer delivery services and digital gift cards, as well as businesses that offer live streaming of their services such as fitness, art, and music classes.
Hometown Hub was created by digital media company Hamilton Rising with the help of local collaborators, including City of Hamilton Economic Development, Hamilton Business Improvement Areas (BIAs), and ShopEatPlay, and most recently, Hamilton’s Innovation Factory, a non-profit business accelerator.
Through Digital Main Street’s Community Collaboration Program, Innovation Factory was able to build on the existing traction of the Hometown Hub, and accelerate the addition of new local businesses onto the platform. This funding was made possible through financial support from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) and the Government of Ontario.
Over 200 businesses registered for a free listing within the first two weeks, says Sam Holdridge, Hamilton Rising’s Managing Director, and now Hometown Hub is set to welcome their 1,000th business any day now.
All local collaborators have a common goal and vision: to sustain and support community business for a more stable economic recovery and a better future for all.
Digital transformation is revolutionizing the small business
Holdridge credits Digital Main Street (DMS) as a driving force behind the transformation he has seen small businesses undergo over the last six months – progress that typically would have taken six years to achieve previously.
Businesses that have pivoted to add an e-commerce stream or other digital platforms are reporting major improvements in sales and consumer interest.
Holdridge cites the Hometown Hub example of DLR Design, an online local business that specializes in custom bike racks, which has gained momentum and new local customers since joining ‘the Hub’.
“Shop Hamazon, not Amazon,” Holdridge says. “Small business is the fabric of our communities and we hope to keep that momentum. We all know the importance of shopping locally, especially this time of year. Hometown Hub’s mission is to sustain that consumer rally well past the holiday season”
Best of all, Hometown Hub is a highly scalable model and the team plans to implement it into more communities and expand across Canada over time.
The Hometown Hub service is free and any small business offering food delivery, e-commerce, live streaming or digital gift cards is encouraged to ‘Get Listed’ at http://hometownhub.ca.
Digital Main Street Update
$2,500 Digital Transformation Grant deadline EXTENDED!
Small businesses can apply for a $2,500 Digital Transformation Grant to adopt new digital tools to engage more customers and grow their small business online. The deadline has been extended until all grant funds have been exhausted.
For information about all the Digital Main Street programs available in Hamilton, including ShopHERE, Transformation Teams, and Digital Service Squad, please visit the Hamilton Business Centre resource page here.
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.