Picton BIA announces new initiative to increase digital capabilities of small Main Street businesses

GOING DIGITAL- Main St. Picton on a September afternoon. The Picton BIA have been awarded a $10,000 grant to help local businesses increase their online presence. (Jason Parks/Gazette Staff)

SARAH WILLIAMS

STAFF WRITER

The Picton Business Improvement Association (BIA) have received a grant from the Ontario Government to fund a Digital Service Squad (DSS) and to help Main Street small businesses improve their online capabilities.

In conjunction with Digital Main Street (DMS), the BIA received a $10,000 grant from the provincial government to establish the DSS.

The goal of DMS is to help attract visitors, create jobs and increase the competitiveness of small businesses. To help Ontario’s main street small businesses enhance their digital tools and online presence, the Ontario BIA Association and Ontario’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs have partnered on this $12 million initiative over three years.

This is intended to help small businesses in the downtown core enhance their use of digital tools and techniques, not only to better evolve and grow, but also to survive the off season.

The squad will consist of a trained specialist-former Picton BIA staff member, Judith Burfoot-who will visit and assist BIA-area downtown businesses at no cost. Burfoot will help business owners set up Google My Business, conduct a digital-readiness assessment and apply for a $2,500 Digital Transformation Grant.

“We are excited to have received this grant,” said Sarah Doiron, Manager of the Picton BIA. “Having Judith on board, equipped with her previous BIA experience and relationships with the businesses, will be an extra benefit. We look forward to providing business owners with more resources to help them grow and thrive in the off-season, which is typically a challenge in Picton.”

The digital economy is greatly important to small businesses. DMS will help local small businesses adopt new digital technologies, from e-commerce and social media, to back-office systems such as payroll and inventory.

“Our government is committed to helping small businesses improve their competitiveness, create jobs and attract investment,” said Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. “That’s why I’m so pleased that businesses in Picton will benefit from the expertise of a Digital Service Squad to help small businesses embrace digital technology. Our investment in the Digital Main Street program will help to ensure that Ontario is open for business and open for jobs.”

MPP for the Bay of Quinte, Todd Smith, echoed the sentiments of Hardeman. Smith stated that it is important for the provincial government to enhance the digital capabilities of small businesses and to help these businesses then take advantage of new tools and training that will help them expand.