Federal and Provincial Governments Partner to Expand Toronto’s Digital Main Street Program
Today, the federal and provincial governments announced a $57 million investment to help small businesses across Ontario go digital by building on Toronto’s investments into Digital Main Street and, most recently, ShopHERE powered by Google.
This announcement represents an investment of $50 million from the Government of Canada, through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) and $7.6 million from the Province of Ontario.
For Toronto businesses, this additional investment will fund a $2,500 Digital Main Street grant to help small businesses purchase technology. It will also provide funding for additional students and staff to deliver the City’s innovative ShopHERE powered by Google program to help small businesses and artists open their own Shopify store.
In addition, the Future-Proofing Main Street program will also be launched, which will help main street businesses pivot their business models, as well as develop and implement digital transformation plans.
The City has partnered with the federal and provincial governments, as well as the Toronto Business Improvement Area Association (TABIA), the Toronto Region Board of Trade and Schulich School of Business – York University to help main street businesses adopt digital technologies to compete now and in the future.
Digital Main Street was created by the City of Toronto and the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA) in 2016 to help main street businesses use technology such as websites, social media and e-commerce platforms to drive growth and new opportunities. The program is also supported by Google, Mastercard, Shopify and Microsoft.
The City recently expanded the Digital Main Street program, increasing funding from $240,000 to $825,000, introduced ShopHERE powered by Google, and partnered with Ritual to offer the Ritual ONE app free to local bars, restaurants and food services as a part of the Mayor’s Economic Support and Recovery Task Force’s short-term economic support and recovery plan for Toronto businesses.
Local businesses can complete the Digital Main Street onboarding process to access these programs and more at digitalmainstreet.ca/toronto . Artists and local businesses can sign up for their free Shopify online store at digitalmainstreet.ca/toronto/shophere .
The City’s website is updated daily with the latest health advice and information about City services and social supports. Check toronto.ca/covid-19 for answers to common questions before contacting Toronto Public Health.
“We are doing everything we can, in cooperation with the federal and provincial governments, to help businesses during these difficult times. Only by working together will we be able to address the enormous impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the devastation to the economy. I’m proud that our federal and provincial partners have seen the value of our made-in-Toronto Digital Main Street program and I am pleased that it will now be available across Ontario. In Toronto, this additional investment will allow us to offer grants and a new program to help small businesses future-proof to become more resilient and competitive.”
– Mayor John Tory
“I am pleased that the federal and provincial governments are partnering with the City to extend the reach of our immensely successful Digital Main Street program across the province. By helping these businesses to generate revenue, provide employment, and offer their goods and services, the program will make a significant contribution to recovery across Ontario.”
– Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson (Ward 21 Scarborough Centre), Chair of the Economic and Community Development Committee
“Main street businesses are the heart of our communities, not just here in Toronto but across the province. Through all the programs and policies launched during the pandemic, businesses have been clear: dollars and cents are the most important for survival. Our provincial and federal government partners have stepped up and doubled-down on the efforts we’re already making. Many of our main street business owners are our family, friends and neighbours. This is the best of our values as Torontonians, Ontarians and Canadians coming together to support each other.”
– Councillor Brad Bradford, Beaches-East York (Ward 19)
“As local economies across Ontario reopen, we’re focused on ensuring that our main streets don’t just survive, but thrive. These businesses are the backbone of our economy, a source of local jobs – and local pride. Thanks to this major investment, they’ll be able to expand their offerings and seize the many opportunities presented by online commerce. Our message to Ontario’s small businesses and those whose livelihoods rely on them is clear: we’re working with you to help our economy come back stronger than ever.”
– The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario
“In southern Ontario, the stores along downtown streets are critical to a city’s identity. FedDev Ontario and its partners will offer the support these businesses rebuild and retool in the digital world, while providing valuable work experience to students that may have been displaced from other opportunities by the pandemic.”
– Kate Young, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages (FedDev Ontario)
“The global marketplace is rapidly changing, and in order to compete and succeed Ontario must adapt. By using innovative tools and technologies, the Digital Main Street Platform will help our businesses in expanding their reach to meet new markets and adjust to the new realities of doing business during the pandemic and into the next phase of economic recovery.”
– The Honourable Victor Fedeli, Ontario Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade
“Helping move small business from bricks and mortar to bricks and clicks has been the goal of TABIA and Digital Main Street since consumers shopping habits started to shift online. These unprecedented times have only amplified this need. With the help and support of this announcement and commitments by an unprecedented number of corporate partners, companies, educational institutions and volunteers we are that much closer to making Toronto and Ontario’s small businesses more resilient through the Digital Main Street initiative.”
– John Kiru, Executive Director of the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA)
“We’re excited to support the expansion of the ShopHERE program across Ontario and continue working with Digital Main Street to provide independent businesses with the digital tools and resources they require to get online. The future of retail is changing, and while stages of reopening have started across Ontario, it’s never been more important for businesses to establish a digital presence to enable an omni-channel experience for customers.”
– Roberto Faria, Senior Social Impact Manager of Shopify
“A digital presence brings businesses enormous opportunities for growth, innovation and jobs. ShopHERE powered by Google, which started in the city of Toronto, aims to get 50,000 businesses online this year, to help them navigate the challenges ahead.”
– Sabrina Geremia, VP and Country Manager of Google Canada
Shopify is a leading global commerce company, providing trusted tools to start, grow, market and manage a retail business of any size. Shopify makes commerce better for everyone with a platform and services that are engineered for reliability, while delivering a better shopping experience for consumers everywhere. Headquartered in Ottawa, Canada, Shopify powers over one million businesses in more than 175 countries and is trusted by brands such as Allbirds, Gymshark, PepsiCo, Staples and many more.
Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. As a global technology leader, Google’s innovations in web search and advertising have made its website a top internet property and its brand one of the most recognized in the world. Google Canada has offices in Waterloo, Toronto, Montreal, and Ottawa with over 1,500 Canadian Google employees working on teams across Engineering, AI Research, Sales and Marketing.
The Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA) is a non-profit umbrella organization working with the 83 Business Improvement Areas within the City of Toronto, who in turn represent more than 40,000 business and property owners.
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.