City of Toronto Expands Digital Main Street Program to Help Local Businesses During COVID-19
Digital Main Street was created by the City of Toronto and the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA) in 2016 to assist main street businesses in growing their operations through technology with easy to use tools and resources. The program is also supported by Google, Mastercard, Shopify and Microsoft.
Working with TABIA and other community partners, the program has helped small businesses with everything from websites and social media, to launching ecommerce platforms and using data to drive new business opportunities.
Digital Main Street offers a range of ways for businesses to embrace digital transformation virtually, including online tools, connections to trusted digital vendors, structured online learning and a Digital Service Squad, who provide one-on-one assistance to help businesses grow and manage their operations.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, funding for Digital Main Street in Toronto has been tripled. The budget for the program will go from $240,000 to $825,000 this year. The funding will be used to expand the Digital Service Squad to support Toronto’s main street businesses through one-on-one virtual support.
Since its launch, the Digital Main Street program has engaged more than 6,000 Toronto businesses and provided direct one-on-one support to 2,159 businesses, delivering more than 9,200 hours of support, training and education. Prior to working with the Digital Main Street program, 30 per cent of businesses had no online presence. These businesses now do and an additional 66 per cent of businesses expanded their existing online presence.
The expansion of the Digital Main Street program is a part of the Mayor’s Economic Support and Recovery Task Force’s short-term economic support and recovery plan for Toronto’s businesses.
Local businesses can complete the Digital Main Street onboarding process and receive a free Digital Assessment and recommended to-do list at digitalmainstreet.ca/toronto.
The City’s website is updated daily with the latest health advice and information about City services, social supports and economic recovery measures. Check toronto.ca/covid-19 for answers to common questions before contacting the Toronto Public Health COVID-19 Hotline or 311.
“Working with TABIA and other community and corporate partners, Digital Main Street has helped businesses with everything from their websites and social media, to launching e-commerce platforms. We’re expanding this program at a critical time for Toronto businesses by tripling the funding. I am doing everything I can as Mayor to help our small businesses get through this, to advocate for them to other governments, and to make sure the city is there to support them. The expansion of the this program is just one example of work the City of Toronto is doing, in full cooperation with our partners in the provincial and federal governments, business community and non-profit sector, to minimize
the impact of this terrible virus and to see an economic recovery take place as soon as possible.”
– Mayor John Tory
Digital tools are becoming vital, if not existential, assets for many main street businesses trying to weather the current crisis. The expansion of the Digital Main Street program extends the availability of these tools to help businesses take early advantage of opportunities for economic recovery in whatever form they appear.”
– Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson, Scarborough Centre (Ward 21), Chair of the Economic and Community Development Committee
“Our main streets and mom and pops are the backbones of our neighbourhoods. At a time when more and more services are moving online in response to this crisis, expanding Digital Main Street will help us grow an already successful program to help businesses get online or expand their existing presence. This expansion will not only help businesses survive at this crucial moment but it will also give us the chance us show our support by accessing their goods and services online while staying home.”
– Councillor Brad Bradford, Beaches-East York (Ward 19)
Toronto is home to more than 2.9 million people whose diversity and experiences make this great city Canada’s leading economic engine and one of the world’s most diverse and livable cities. As the fourth largest city in North America, Toronto is a global leader in technology, finance, film, music, culture, and innovation, and consistently places at the top of international rankings due to investments championed by its government, residents and businesses. For more information visit toronto.ca or follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/CityofToronto, on Instagram at instagram.com/cityofto or on Facebook at facebook.com/cityofto.