Digital Main Street Ontario Grants Program 3.0
Helping Main Street Business Grow by Adopting Digital Tools & Technologies
Welcome to Digital Main Street
Applications for Digital Service Squad Grants re-opened on July 6, 2021.
Applications for Digital Transformation Grants re-opened on July 19, 2021.
Digital Main Street is an active and progressive program focused on helping small businesses adopt digital tools and technologies and embrace digital marketing.
The program is based on three important components:
- Knowledge transfer through online training and assessments
- Resources including Digital Transformation Grants, and
- Support through Digital Service Squads, a team of trained digital technology specialists that provide businesses with the hands-on support and guidance needed to begin their digital transformation.
Digital Main Street (DMS) 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, Shopify, Microsoft, Facebook, Intuit QuickBooks, Square, Lightspeed, and Yellow Pages.
The 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 the expansion of Digital Main Street, a $12 million multi-faceted program to help main street small businesses adopt and use digital technologies more effectively. In 2020, the Government of Ontario and the Federal Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) stepped up with new funding to extend the program to March 2021.
As of July 1, 2021, the Government of Ontario has again extended funding for the Ontario Grants Program to provide Digital Transformation Grants to small businesses and Digital Service Squad grants to municipalities, BIAs, Chambers and Small Business Enterprise Centres.
With this new investment, the location qualification has been expanded, and now brick-and-mortar small businesses may apply without needing to be in a zoned main street district. This important change provides a much wider range of eligible small businesses across the province with access to training, grants, and Digital Service Squads.
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 DMS Academy also houses a full on-demand learning management system with three (3) courses available for businesses anytime and anyplace.
- The Digital Service Squad: a first-of-its-kind teams of trained specialists to help business owners with one-on-one assistance and digital assessments to help their businesses grow. This also includes implementing and activating free and easy-to-use tools.
Digital Transformation Grants
The Digital Transformation Grant application portal opened on July 19, 2021. Applications will continue to be accepted until October 31, 2021 or until the grant funds have been fully exhausted. The application portal can be accessed through the Digital Main Street website.
Since 2018, the Digital Main Street Digital Transformation Grant program has successfully provided more than 6,000 Ontario small businesses with a $2,500 grant to support their digital expansion through the purchase and adoption of digital tools and technologies.
Digital Service Squad Grants:
The Digital Service Squad Grant application portal opened on July 6, 2021. Applications will continue to be accepted until September 30, 2021 or until the grant funds have been fully exhausted. The application portal can be accessed through the Digital Main Street website.
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. These groups can also form a coalition to service larger areas or create efficiencies in service delivery.