Media release

Communitech and regional innovation partners to help ‘futureproof businesses’ in Southwestern Ontario

Program will match digital marketing expertise to 5,200 small businesses, ensuring their long-term success in the post-COVID world

KITCHENER, ONT., June 11, 2020 —  Communitech has been selected to help deliver Digital Main Street programming across the province. As part of a $57-million investment announced today by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev) and the Province of Ontario, Communitech will work with its regional innovation partners WEtech Alliance, TechAlliance, Innovation Guelph, Innovation Factory, Innovate Niagara, and Haltech to support 5,200 small businesses and create more than 700 jobs for co-op students in the Southwestern part of the Province.

Digital Main Street, led by the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas and the Ontario Business Improvement Area Association, is an initiative focused on helping small and medium-sized businesses in the retail, hospitality, and trade/service sectors to adopt digital business models. Communitech and its partners will add a new ‘Futureproofing businesses’ program to the Digital Main Street offering, helping firms to leverage e-commerce solutions and adapt their businesses to regain lost revenue and become more resilient and competitive as the economy recovers.

"Communitech has been helping companies start, grow and succeed for more than 20 years," said Iain Klugman, CEO and president at Communitech. "We are proud to now help futureproof Ontario businesses through the Digital Main Street initiative. Alongside our regional innovation partners, we're ready to get to work and help businesses engage with their communities online, embrace e-commerce and reach new customers."

Earlier today, the Hon. Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for The Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), and the Hon. Prabmeet Sarkaria, Ontario Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction, announced a $57-million investment in two main programs to help main street businesses and SMEs across the region adopt digital technologies to compete now and in the future.

“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,” said Minister Joly. “Thanks to the expanded Digital Main Street platform, they’ll be able to expand their offerings and take advantage of more and more people shopping online. Our message to Ontario’s small businesses, and those whose livelihoods rely on them, is clear: we’re working with you to support good jobs and help our economy come back stronger than ever.”

The new investments in Digital Main Street will extend direct support to businesses across the province as they adapt to a digital economy.

“Ontario’s small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and their recovery is critical to Ontario’s recovery. As thousands of small businesses across the province closed their doors and halted business during the COVID-19 outbreak, many struggled to shift sales or services online,” said Associate Minister Sarkaria. “ I am very pleased, that together with Minister Joly and our federal partners, we are providing small businesses with the tools they need to recover and flourish as Ontario reopens.”

Throughout its history, Communitech has worked with tech-enabled businesses from Waterloo Region and beyond, and is proud to now expand its reach to help traditional businesses digitally transform and become tech-enabled. Through Digital Main Street, Communitech and its partners will work with 5,200 small businesses across Southwestern Ontario over the next nine months.

“As a former Communitech Board member, I know the speed that they bring good ideas to life.  During this pandemic, every day small businesses are physically closed is a lost opportunity, yet the digital world is always open-for-business,” said Dave Jaworsky, Mayor at the City of Waterloo. “This snappy investment by the federal and provincial governments will greatly help local companies get back to business, with a proven partner in Communitech.”

"Kitchener businesses have a long history of adapting to economic shifts to remain competitive and flourish," says Mayor Berry Vrbanovic. "We are thrilled that Communitech and Digital Main Street will be launching additional supports to enable our businesses to remain strong and resilient as they work to recover during this Covid-19 pandemic period". 

“The pandemic has shown us that businesses and entrepreneurs need to be able to adapt quickly to the unexpected and ever-changing environments,” said City of Cambridge Mayor Kathryn McGarry. “Being part of a digital economy and offering services online is vital; and this is an important initiative that will certainly help local businesses with the tools they need to overcome recent and unforeseen challenges.” 

Businesses will be able to apply at https://digitalmainstreet.ca.

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For media inquiries, please contact:

Candace Beres
Manager, Public Relations, Communitech
(519) 888-9944 Ext. 1027
candace.beres@communitech.ca

About Communitech

Communitech was founded in 1997 by a group of entrepreneurs committed to making Waterloo Region a global innovation leader. At the time it was crazy talk, but somehow this community managed to pull it off. Today, Communitech is a public-private innovation hub that supports a community of more than 1,400 companies — from startups to scale-ups to large global players.

Communitech helps tech companies start, grow and succeed in three distinct ways.

  • Communitech is a place – the centre of gravity for entrepreneurs and innovators. A clubhouse for building cool tech and great companies.
  • Communitech delivers programs – helping companies at all stages with access to capital, customers and talent. We are here to help them grow and innovate.
  • Communitech partners in building a world-leading ecosystem – making sure we have all the ingredients (and the brand) to help companies go from a small startup to a global giant.