Digital Main Street 2.0
Helping Main Street Business Grow by Adopting Digital Tools & Technologies
Welcome to Digital Main Street
Digital Main Street is a digital “how to” guide and program focused on helping main street small businesses adopt new technologies and embrace digital marketing. The program is based on three important components:
- Knowledge transfer through training and assessments
- Resources including Digital Transformation Grants, and
- Support through Digital Service Squads, a team of trained specialists that provide businesses with the hands-on support and guidance needed to begin their digital transformation.
Digital Main Street was created and launched by the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA) in 2016 with direct support from the City of Toronto. The program is also supported by a group of strategic partners including: Google, Mastercard, Microsoft, Shopify, and Facebook.
The Ontario Digital Main Street Initiative
In 2018, with the foresight of the need to help main street small businesses be more resilient, the Government of Ontario funded Ontario Digital Main Street, a $12 million multi-faceted program to help main street small businesses adopt and use digital technologies more effectively.
Thanks to renewed investment in the Ontario Digital Main Street (DMS) program, even more of the province’s main street small businesses were able to take full advantage of digital technologies and e-commerce platforms to increase their revenues and create jobs. OBIAA has been and is uniquely placed to work with TABIA, the Province of Ontario and FedDev Ontario to deliver the DMS program across the province, leveraging our network of more than 315 Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) to support communities and their main street businesses right across the province.
Digital Main Street provides:
- A full interactive web platform: providing access to a free Digital Assessment for business owners, a comprehensive vendor directory that businesses can leverage, as well as a cache of thought leadership content providing businesses with best practices, how-to guides, and real life examples of businesses going through digital transformation.
- Digital Training (online and in-person) through the Digital Main Street Academy: a full suite of educational and instructive workshops done both in-person and online to assist with their mission of helping main street businesses grow by adopting digital tools and technologies.
- The Digital Service Squad: a first of its kind team of highly trained recent graduates to help business owners one-on-one, providing assistance and digital assessments to help their businesses grow. This also includes implementing and activating free and easy-to-use tools.
The Ontario Digital Main Street Initiative expanded the previously existing Digital Main Street program by:
- Digital Transformation Training and Grants Program: grants of up to $2,500 to help businesses strategically adopt technology and meet their digital goals.
- Digital Service Squad Grants and Program: grants for BIAs or municipal groups to develop Digital Service Squads to deliver one-on-one assistance and digital assessments by highly-trained teams that can come on-site to offer services and recommendations, including activating free and easy-to-use tools.
- Digital Training (online and in-person): OBIAA has contracted Camp Tech to provide a set of eight FREE digital skills workshops to help you promote your business online. Topics include how to build or redesign a website, how to optimize your website for Google, using social media to grow your business and getting creative with your online advertising budget. The courses are be available online and in-person through your BIA or municipality. A schedule of upcoming training sessions can be found at www.obiaa.com/training. If you have questions, please email [email protected].
Digital Transformation Grants
The Digital Main Street Digital Transformation Grant program has successfully provided over 4,000 main street small businesses with a $2,500 grant to support their digital expansion through the purchase and adoption of digital tools and technologies. The application portal is now closed, however the digital assessment and all online training modules will continue to be an available resource for all businesses through the Digital Main Street website.
Digital Service Squad Grants:
Digital Main Street Digital Service Squad Grants have all been awarded. Digital Service Squads (DSS) are teams of digital technology specialists who deliver one-on-one assistance to main street small businesses. DSS can be set up by BIAs, Municipalities, Chambers of Commerce or Small Business Enterprise Centres, or these groups can come together to form one centralized squad.