The Hamilton Business Centre, in partnership with the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, will wstablish a Digital Service Squad to help small businesses adopt online technologies and digitally transform their sales, marketing and back-office operations. The initiative is supported by a $150,000 grant from Digital Main Street’s Ontario Grants Program (OGP). The DSS will provide trained digital specialists to local small businesses to help them. The squad will begin working with local businesses in the Hamilton and the surrounding area virtually with plans to visit physical locations in mid-late September according to local and Provincial health regulations.
Said Kristin Huigenbos, Hamilton Business Centre Coordinator. “Earlier this year, Digital Transformation Grants equalling $432,500 were given to over 173 local businesses in Hamilton, Ancaster, Stoney Creek, Waterdown and Dundas during the Digital Transformation Grant Program 2.0, an increase of approx. 60% over the previous year’s grant totals. In addition, over 350 local business were assisted in their digital transformation by Digital Main Street programs.”
Renewed government funding of the OGP will provide 3,000 Digital Transformation Grants to qualified brick-and-mortar small businesses as well as Digital Service Squad grants for organizations to 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 cornerstone of Digital Main Street, these squads consist of trained specialists who meet with brick-and-mortar small businesses at no cost to help them complete an online assessment and introduce them to online training modules to build their knowledge and skills. 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 set-up, Google My Business profiles, 360º photos, social media presence, and much more. The DSS can also provide information on the ShopHERE program, if applicable, to assist with digital storefront set-up and e-commerce. Where COVID-19 restrictions are in place, DSS experts can provide support through phone and video tools such as Zoom.