Monthly sales up by 350 per cent compared to six and 12 months ago – a stunning achievement for any business of any size. Artist Irene McCuaig, owner of Inglenook Art Studios in Kenora, achieved just that … during a pandemic, no less.

When the first pandemic lockdown forced McCuaig to close her doors, she feared the worst. Her business was entirely in-person, from sales of her own original art, to the art classes and workshops offered by her and other instructors to local aspiring creatives.

Through Kenora’s Northwest Business Centre, she turned to Digital Main Street (DMS) and qualified for a Digital Transformation Grant. The grant came in hand with the educational resources and counsel to help her develop a digital marketing strategy, update her website and launch an online store for the first time.

In addition to her own art, McCuaig is now offering Zoom art classes through her online store. She is making more effective use of Facebook as an outreach tool to drive more traffic to her website.

“The DMS training sessions have given me a better sense of direction for my business – it was also great to see other entrepreneurs in action,” McCuaig said. “My improved social media presence and the online store have gone a long way toward ensuring Inglenook Art Studio survives this COVID crisis.”



The Digital Main Street program has been further extended through funding from FedDev Ontario and the Ontario Ministry for Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade (MEDJCT). The new round of funding includes $42.5 million from the Government of Canada’s Regional Relief and Recovery Fund, a national recovery initiative delivered by Canada’s regional development agencies. With $7.45 million from Ontario, this combined federal and provincial project will strengthen Ontario’s economic capacity for innovation, entrepreneurship and collaboration, and will promote the development of a strong and diversified Ontario economy. For more information, please visit


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