Timing is everything. Megan Finlayson, a hairdresser of 20 years, dreamed of opening her own salon in Fort Frances. At the beginning of 2020, she didn’t expect that the world would be in the grip of a pandemic by the time her grand opening day arrived on March 23.
Ontario declared its first state of emergency on March 17, 2020, forcing the closure of businesses deemed non-essential. Megan’s new salon, Split Ends, never got a chance to open.
Megan turned to Digital Main Street (DMS) and qualified for a Digital Transformation Grant. With the help of her local DMS team, she developed a Digital Transformation Plan and hired a digital marketing expert.
That expert helped her to create a social media marketing campaign and design three months of social media posts. This, coupled with other online advertising, helped her build a huge online following and drive some online sales. When lockdown measures lifted and Split Ends at last did have its grand opening in June 2020, it had already built up plenty of public awareness.
Megan has continued to invest in her online presence and grow her social media following to ride out the pandemic.
“The exposure has definitely not only kept us in business with online product purchases, but helped grow our business quicker than anticipated for when we could return to work!” Megan said. “Digital Main Street has made this already trying time for a new business much easier.”
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 digitalmainstreet.ca/ontariogrants