A group of regional innovation partners, including Waterloo-based Communitech, have received $57 million in funding to help deliver Digital Main Street programming that helps businesses “futureproof” through the adoption of e-commerce solutions. The program aims to support 5,200 small and medium-sized businesses across Ontario and create more than 700 jobs for co-operative education students.
The Digital Main Street program started as an initiative focused on helping retail, hospitality and trade/service businesses digitize, but Communitech and its partners will add a “futureproofing businesses” program that will help firms leverage e-commerce and adapt to regain lost revenue and become more resilient and competitive as the economy recovers. Businesses can apply to the Digital Main Street.
“Communitech has been helping companies start, grow and succeed for more than 20 years,” said Iain Klugman, CEO and President at Communitech in a statement. “We are proud to now help futureproof Ontario businesses through the Digital Main Street initiative. Alongside our regional innovation partners, we’re ready to get to work and help businesses engage with their communities online, embrace e-commerce and reach new customers.”
The funding is a joint effort by the Governments of Canada and Ontario – two jurisdictions that have worked together without friction or partisanship throughout the COVID-19 crisis. The Hon. Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for The Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), and the Hon. Prabmeet Sarkaria, Ontario Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction, made the announcement.
The Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas and the Ontario Business Improvement Area Association lead the broader Digital Main Street initiative. Partners working alongside Communitech to deliver the “futureproofing businesses” program include WEtech Alliance, TechAlliance, Innovation Guelph, Innovation Factory, Innovate Niagara and Haltech.
Communitech is Canada’s leading innovation hub, serving 1,400 tech-driven companies, as well as entrepreneurs and corporate innovators. This hub is just one part of a dynamic Waterloo tech ecosystem that includes the Accelerator Centre, Velocity, a new Google for Startups Accelerator, Canada’s top technology university and hundreds of tech companies of all sizes, including global giants and Canada’s three fastest-growing tech companies.