Huron County, Ontario – Huron County Economic Development, in partnership with nine local municipalities, eleven Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) and other business groups across the County, has received a $90,000 grant from Digital Main Street’s Ontario Grants Program (OGP) for a Digital Service Squad (DSS), which will provide trained digital specialists to help local small businesses adopt online technologies and digitally transform their sales, marketing and back-office operations. The Squad will cover the Municipalities of Bluewater, Central Huron, Huron East, Morris-Turnberry and South Huron, as well as the Town of Goderich and the Townships of North Huron, Howick and Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh.
“Huron County’s small businesses create vital community hubs, and we are committed to ensuring that they continue to flourish,” says Warden Glen McNeil. “Through participation in the Digital Service Squad program, our businesses will be better positioned to compete in an increasingly digital world.”
Renewed government funding of the OGP — including investment from the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade — 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 Huron County Digital Service Squad consists of trained specialists who are available to 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 further build 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.
“In the past 17 months, as small businesses across the province fought to stay open and keep customers engaged online, Digital Service Squads were there to help,” said Kay Matthews, Executive Director of OBIAA. “Squads jumped online themselves during lockdowns to help virtually, and businesses have consistently told us how important the DSS were to their success through the pandemic. We are thrilled to support the Huron County DSS and help them provide assistance to even more small businesses than ever.”
The County of Huron asks the community to continue respecting all public health guidelines, including performing hand hygiene, practicing physical distancing, wearing masks and staying home if ill. Stay informed on the COVID-19 situation in Huron County by visiting the Huron-Perth Public Health website.