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General News

January 26, 2021

Burlington City Council and Team Burlington calling for renewed and expanded funding to support local businesses during COVID-19

Burlington, Ont. — Jan. 26, 2021 — On January 11, 2021 Burlington City Council unanimously approved a resolution calling for the Provincial and Federal government to make changes to extend and expand funding for the Digital Main Street program to support local business.

The resolution was passed, in partnership with the Burlington Economic Recovery Network (BERN) and Team Burlington, calling on the provincial and federal governments to:

  • renew and expand funding to the Digital Main Street program as soon as possible to help our businesses to survive the provincial lockdown and reopening of the economy in the future;
  • renew the $2,500 Digital Transformation Grant and Digital Service Squad support; and
  • expand the Digital Main Street Transformation Grant to be available to main street businesses that are located outside of BIAs as the initial program restricted applicants to BIA member businesses only
  • commit to a minimum 2 year funding extension to the Digital Main Street program

The resolution was developed in partnership with the Burlington Economic Recovery Network (BERN) and Team Burlington, which includes representatives from Tourism Burlington, Burlington Economic Development, Burlington Chamber of Commerce and two business improvement areas – Aldershot Village BIA and the Burlington Downtown Business Association. Mayor Marianne Meed Ward and Ward 1 Councillor Kelvin Galbraith sit on the BERN.

The BERN chair Randall Smallbone and Mayor Meed Ward have co-signed a letter to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages the Honorable Mélanie Joly and the Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade the Honourable Victor Fedeli.  The letter includes a copy of the resolution and reinforces the critical support to local main street businesses during COVID-19.

The Digital Main Street Program has been a critical support to local main street businesses during COVID-19 that Team Burlington has implemented based on business concerns raised by the Burlington Economic Recovery Network. As part of the program Burlington has benefitted from hiring two Digital Service Squad members who have had over 1,000 touchpoints with businesses and supported over 130 businesses to date in growing their digital presence and tools. In addition, qualifying businesses have been able to access a $2,500 Digital Transformation Grant to implement digital tools within their business.

When the province of Ontario went into lockdown December 26th, 2020 online and digital channels became the primary method for main street businesses to interact with customers and generate revenues. Many businesses reached out to Burlington’s Digital Service Squad team for support in how to engage with customers, update their website and use social channels to promote curb side pickup and takeaway, in line with provincial lockdown restrictions placed on business. As of December 31st, 2020 applications for both the $2,500 Digital Transformation Grant and new applications for Digital Service Squad support have been closed to new applications awaiting renewal of funding.

On January 20th, 2021, a similar resolution was brought forward to Halton Regional Council by Mayor Meed Ward and Ward 1 Councillor Kelvin Galbraith and was unanimously endorsed. Multiple members of Burlington City Council are also members of the local business community, with Ward 1 Councillor Kelvin Galbraith and Ward 6 Councillor Angelo Bentivegna both being longtime business owners in Burlington. Councillor Bentivegna also has a long history in the hospitality industry.

The City of Burlington’s fundamental priority throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has been to protect the health and safety of Burlington residents, employers and employees, and support our business community to survive the economic impacts of COVID-19 public health measures.

Burlington is ranked as Canada’s best community and best place to raise a family. It is a City where people, nature and businesses thrive. As residents continue to rediscover many of their favourite spaces and activities in the city, City services may look different as we work to stop the spread of COVID-19. The City’s commitment to providing the community with essential services remains a priority. Sign up to learn more about Burlington at Burlington.ca/Enews and download the free City of Burlington app. For more information about the Burlington Economic Recovery Network, visit https://burlingtonchamber.com/bern/.

Quotes

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward

“The Digital Main Street Program is a critical lifeline for many of our businesses. Now more than ever, our businesses need help to go digital to ride out the continued shutdown. Extending this program, and expanding it to businesses outside of BIA areas, will go a long way to help ensure our small businesses will be there for us on the other side of COVID-19.”

Ward 1 Councillor Kelvin Galbraith

“As this pandemic continues into its second year, we need to provide all the assistance that we can to our local business community that are suffering.  The extension of the Digital Main Street funding will continue to help businesses outside of BIA areas with opening up additional streams of revenue from online offers.”

Ward 6 Councillor Angelo Bentivegna

“This is a great opportunity for small business here in the City of Burlington. We are thankful to the Burlington Economic Recovery Network (BERN) for their advocacy work on behalf of small business. The expansion of the Digital Main Street program will help local retail and restaurants to look for alternate methods to increase sales and support the needed training and technical advice. Small businesses will be able to introduce new technology into their portfolio that typically they may not be able to create or afford. This program will add needed innovative technology to many local businesses. I am pleased to see the expansion of this program, not only to increase online customer base but also as a potential tool to expand this program after this pandemic. The positive message here, during this pandemic, is that Burlington has supported small business entrepreneurs and will continue to in the future.”

Randall Smallbone, Chair of the Burlington Economic Recovery Network

“I thank the Mayor and our City Council for supporting BERN’s efforts in advocating for the expansion and extension of the Digital Main Street program. We all know the impact of this pandemic will not end anytime soon and will likely carry forward into 2022. Every effort has to be made to keep our small businesses alive, and this program is critical to helping us do that.”

Attachments

BERN resolution to Burlington City Council

BERN letter to province

COVID-19

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Media Contact

Suzanne Vukosavljevic
Manager of Communications
Office: 905-335-7600, ext. 7841

suzanne.vukosavljevic@burlington.ca

Media Contact

Suzanne Vukosavljevic
Manager of Communications
Office: 905-335-7600, ext. 7841

suzanne.vukosavljevic@burlington.ca

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