HURON COUNTY – Huron County Economic Development obtained a substantial grant from Digital Main Street’s Ontario Grants Program (OGP) to provide specialists called the Digital Service Squad (DSS) to help local small businesses adopt online technology.
Nine local municipalities, 11 Business Improvement Areas (BIAs), and other business groups across the county partnered with the economic development department to digitally aid local businesses in transforming their sales, marketing, and back-office operations.
The DSS will cover the Municipalities of Bluewater, Central Huron, Huron East, Morris-Turnberry, South Huron, the Town of Goderich, and the Townships of North Huron Howick and Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh.
“Huron County’s small businesses create vital community hubs, and we are committed to ensuring that they continue to flourish,” Warden Glen McNeil said in a press release. “Through participation in the Digital Service Squad program, our businesses will be better positioned to compete in an increasingly digital world.”
The release said that renewed government funding of the OGP, including investment from the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation, and Trade, will provide 3,000 Digital Transformation Grants to qualified brick-and-mortar small businesses. Additionally, DSS grants for organizations will provide hands-on assistance to local small businesses.
The OGP is administrated by the Ontario BIA Association in partnership with the Toronto Association of BIAs (TABIA).
The DSS comprises trained specialists who can meet with brick-and-mortar small businesses for free to help them complete an online assessment and introduce them to online training modules to build knowledge and skills further.
These experts can also assist businesses with developing their Digital Transformation Plan (DTP) and applying for a one-time $2,500 grant to implement it.
This one-on-one DSS assistance also includes support for basic website setup, Google My Business profiles, 360 degree photos, social media presence, and much more.
The DSS can also provide information on the ShopHERE program, if applicable, to assist with digital storefront setup and e-commerce.
Where COVID-19 restrictions exist, DSS experts can provide support through phone and video tools such as Zoom.
The Ontario Business Improvement Area Association’s (OBIAA) Executive Director, Kay Matthews, said,
“In the past 17 months, as small businesses across the province fought to stay open and keep customers engaged online, Digital Service Squads were there to help.”
“Squads jumped online themselves during lockdowns to help virtually, and businesses have consistently told us how important the DSS were to their success through the pandemic,” Matthews added. “We are thrilled to support the Huron County DSS and help them provide assistance to even more small businesses than ever.”
Follow Huron County Economic Development on Facebook for more details or email email@example.com if you would like the assistance of a Squad member.
Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times