WEtech Alliance Partners To Support Small Businesses To Adapt To A More Digital World

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Media Release: WEech Alliance


Future-Proofing Main Street Through Sustained & Specialized Engagement 

Windsor, ON (June 11, 2020) – The COVID-19 pandemic has had a severe impact on businesses of all sizes across the country. In particular, retail-oriented main street businesses have suffered, with stores closed and in-person commerce halted. To regain revenues, many businesses are transitioning from traditional storefronts to online stores to serve more clients and capitalize on new markets.

With Ontario’s economy reopening, the federal and provincial governments have joined together to help small businesses go digital — both to recover and generate revenue through a pan-Ontario collaborative project.

Building on Toronto’s foundational investments into Digital Main Street and, most recently, ShopHERE, the federal and provincial governments today announced a $57-million investment that will extend the support to businesses across Ontario.

This investment includes $12.2 million from the Government of Canada, through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario)  targeting support to retail, hospitality, and service businesses in Southwestern Ontario. The funds will be used to create digital service teams to help small businesses establish their online presence, implement e-commerce tools, and develop digital transformation and digital marketing plans.

The partnership brings together Southwestern Ontario Regional Innovation Centres (RICs) CommunitechHaltechInnovation GuelphInnovation FactoryInnovate NiagaraTechAlliance and WEtech Alliance to deliver a new Future Proofing Main Street program as part of the Digital Main Street Platform. The partners involved offer a wealth of expertise ranging from business acceleration, technology, innovation, marketing and economic development.

The Future Proofing Main Street program will be one of three levels of support offered by the Digital Main Street Platform. Each level of support will include a program tailored to the needs of businesses from entry level to advanced level.

WEtech will work alongside its Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent partners including Small Business Centres, Business Improvement Associations, Economic Development organizations and Chambers of Commerce, to support the delivery of the advanced level of support.

For more information or to apply, visit the Digital Main Street website.

Together, as leading innovation hubs in Southwestern Ontario, we will help enterprises from all walks of life to adapt their companies as they work toward recovery. The program will also create job opportunities for more than 725 students across Southwestern Ontario. Over the summer and fall terms, students will gain valuable work experience creating online storefronts, developing digital marketing plans, and supporting small businesses as they leverage e-commerce and other digital platforms.

"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 Fe deral 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)
“Ontario’s small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and their economic recovery is critical to Ontario’s recovery. The COVID 19 pandemic saw thousands of small businesses across the province close their doors and halt business as many had no ability to shift sales or services online. I am very pleased, that together with Minister Joly and our federal partners, we are providing small businesses with the tools they need to not only adapt to the challenges of today, but to reestablish, recover and flourish throughout this phased reopening and into the future.”
-- The Honourable Prabmeet Sarkaria, Ontario Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction
“WEtech Alliance has the network of tech talent and entrepreneurs to provide an online booster shot for small businesses, service sector and entrepreneurs looking to scale up their ecommerce operations. As our local businesses begin to return to service, they are adjusting their operations to provide more information and services on line. Anything that can be done to support this digital transformation will help our small business and job creators get back to doing what they do best.”
-- Drew Dilkens , Mayor, City of Windsor
"We’re proud of the success of our Digital Main Street program in Chatham Kent. We have had 52 businesses right across the community take advantage of the $2,500 grant for a total $130,000 to date. These funds are being used for improvement and development of local businesses’ online footprint and ecommerce capabilities. We’ve also given each successful applicant eight hours of online training in digital marketing. I’m delighted that senior levels of government are continuing to partner with us in this effort.”
-- Darrin Canniff, Mayor, Chatham Kent

“WEtech has spent the last decade helping entrepreneurs create, innovate and accelerate. We look forward to working with our regional and provincial partners to assist businesses in implementing an advanced digital transformation plan, connecting local students with networking, mentoring and specialized training, and connecting local experts with new business opportunities.”
-- Yvonne Pilon, President/CEO, WEtech Alliance

"Communitech has been helping companies start, grow and succeed for more than 20 years. "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."
-- Iain Klugman, President/CEO, Communitech


Quick Facts
  • The Digital Main Street Platform is funded by both the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario.
  • Support through the Digital Main Street Platform will be offered in three tiers customized to the level of support required by each company to develop or strengthen their online presence. More information on the levels of support is available in the Backgrounder.
  • The strategic partners involved in this project have a broad reach to tens of thousands of the region’s businesses from all walks of life . They offer a wealth of expertise ranging from business improvement, technology, innovation, marketing and economic development . Therefore they are best suited to deliver this widespread support and make the great est possible impact across the region . Read more about this pivotal project.
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Media Contact:
Yvonne Pilon
President & CEO
WEtech Alliance
P: 519-819-8251