Digital Main Street’s Community Collaboration Projects demonstrate resiliency of small and medium-sized businesses across Ontario
KITCHENER, ONT., May 06, 2021 — Since its launch and inception in the spring of 2020, Digital Main Street’s Community Collaboration Project, which is part of the Future Proof program, has connected seven regional innovation centres with more than 50 community partners to identify common issues facing main street businesses and develop workable solutions to these issues for implementation. To date, these solutions have impacted more than 1,600 businesses in the Southwestern Ontario region.
In Waterloo Region, Communitech’s Digital Main Street team partnered with a local entertainment company to capture video of popular tourist hotspots for use in virtual reality technology. For example, Ballinran Entertainment’s strolling tours, features murals from local artists and the Conestogo River Horseback Adventures. The virtual experience can be accessed by “visitors” from around the world at a time when in-person attendance may not be an option.
“It is no surprise that many businesses who rely on the tourism industry in Waterloo Region were drastically affected by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Craig Thompson, President and Executive Producer, Ballinran Entertainment. “We are grateful to have had the opportunity to use our expertise in virtual reality video capture to support the many deserving tourism destinations in our thriving region.”
Over in Grey and Bruce counties, the Digital Main Street team partnered with The County of Grey and local organizational partners to support the planning and execution of a virtual job fair. As a result of expert support from digital event specialists, Grey and Bruce counties’ first-ever virtual job fair was held on March 10, 2021, and saw 1,700 job seekers virtually interact with over 175 local businesses. The event was so successful that the team immediately planned its next iteration of this popular virtual job fair, which was held on April 7, 2021.
“After all of the hardships that have faced our community since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, being able to host a virtual event that connected the incredible talent we have in Grey Bruce County with some of our most well-regarded workplaces was incredible,” said Jacinda Rudolph, Economic Development Officer, The County of Grey. “We are very grateful for the support provided by the Digital Main Street initiative made possible by our partners in the federal and provincial governments.”
In the quaint town of Stratford, many local businesses solely depend on the income generated during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. With less foot traffic on main streets and overall revenue in a steep decline, the team at Destination Stratford sought to spread holiday cheer for business owners, employees and holiday shoppers. By providing unique light displays to more than 20 local main street businesses through the Lights On Stratford project, the team helped create unique window displays that lit up the entire community.
“Sometimes it's the smallest things that can have the biggest impact,” said Zac Gribble, Executive Director, Destination Stratford. “As a result of the Digital Main Street Community Collaboration Project, we were able to provide further support for our local businesses, which are the heart and soul of our community, when they needed it the most.”
The Community Collaboration Project was implemented by regional innovation centres across the province. Haltech, iiON, Innovate Niagara, Innovation Factory, Innovation Guelph, Launch Lab, MaRs, NWOIC, RIC Centre, Spark Centre, SSMIC, TechAlliance, VentureLAB, and WEtech in addition to NORCAT, Communitech and Invest Ottawa are all proud partners in the execution of the Digital Main Street Future Proof programs. The Digital Main Street Community Collaboration Project is made possible through financial support of the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) and the Government of Ontario.
To learn more about the Digital Main Street Community Collaboration Projects, please visit: Digitalmainstreet.ca/futureproof.
For more information or media inquiries, please contact:
Manager, Public Relations, 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 a wild idea, but somehow this community managed to pull it off. Today, Communitech is a public-private innovation hub that supports a community of more than 1,600 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.
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.