Chatham-Kent Economic Development and the Small Business Centre are pleased to announce that 20 businesses in Chatham-Kent have already received the Digital Main Street grant made available by the Ontario Business Improvement Area Association (OBIAA). This equates to $50,000 in new funding provided to businesses to improve their digital footprint.
In the fall of 2019, Chatham-Kent Economic Development was provided with a grant of $85,000 to bring on the Digital Service Squad team. The initial focus of the team was to work with businesses across Chatham-Kent to provide a digital assessment of the business, show businesses how to apply for the grant, and to help identify opportunities for the business to improve their online presence.
The grant application process concluded at the end of December, with a flood of applications coming from Chatham-Kent. Over the past three months, the OBIAA has been reviewing the grants and awarding them to businesses across Ontario. As mentioned, to-date 20 businesses in Chatham-Kent have been successful in their application with more applications still being reviewed.
“We would love to see a few more businesses receive grants in Chatham-Kent, but there is a limited amount of dollars available to distribute, and we are being told only the top plans are being considered,” said Doug Robbins, Economic Development Officer. “What has been great to see is that the grants are being awarded to businesses in communities across our entire region.”
One of the businesses awarded the grant is Instant Print & Promo in Chatham. They put a plan forward that would see them expand into a new online business for their company.
“I’m about a month away from going live and I don’t want to get into too many specifics right now, but we are very happy to receive the grant,” said Dave Dawson, owner of Instant Print & Promo. “I have also been attending training sessions that the Small Business Centre has been hosting and they have been very helpful.”
The next phase of the Digital Service Squad, which includes the staff from the Small Business Centre, has been to focus on training tools for businesses. February and the start of March was a busy month for live training events across Chatham-Kent. With the recent changes due to COVID-19, the team has readjusted to focus more on webinar events and providing online resources.
“It only makes sense that since we talk the talk, that we walk the walk and move our training events on to webinar and teleconference,” said Robbins. “We have already recorded one live session and republished it on YouTube for businesses to watch.”
Robbins added, “We are also looking at other webinars from professional agencies around the area, such as Digital Main Street, so that our businesses are aware of tools they can use to help them re-adjust during a difficult time.”
Some of these webinar sessions include Online Relationships, E-commerce 101, Farm to Table, Customer Engagement During COVID-19, and a Website Building for Beginners Boot Camp.
A growing list of online events and resources are available on the Economic Development website at www.investck.ca. You can also find updates on social media @CKEcDev and they welcome any business, no matter the size, or give them a call for help at 1-866-542-5994 or email at email@example.com.
The analytics event held in back in February at the Black Goose in Wallaceburg was well attended by people from across Chatham-Kent. New online sessions are now available via webinar.
Marketing and Communications Officer
Economic Development Services, Community Development
Municipality of Chatham-Kent
124 Thames Street, Chatham, ON N7M 5K8