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Ontario Helping Main Street Businesses Modernize and Grow

Province Expands Program to Help Small Businesses Adopt Digital Technologies

Ontario is supporting main street businesses to modernize the way they do business and attract customers by helping them adopt new digital technologies and build online presence.

Jeff Leal, Minister Responsible for Small Business, and Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, made the announcement today at The Village Hive in Markham.

The Main Street Digital Initiative will help small businesses improve their digital capabilities and tap into the latest trends of today’s digital economy, including setting up an online store, making businesses more mobile-friendly and using social media and apps to promote businesses.

The new initiative builds on an existing Toronto-based program and expands the services for small businesses across the province, including:

  • Web platform: provides access to basic digital services, including vetted lists of vendors who can identify technologies and tools businesses need to become digital ready.
  • Digital training (online and in-person): offers specific digital technologies or strategies including e-commerce, social media and website development.
  • Service squad: provides one-on-one assistance and digital assessments by highly trained team who can come into stores to offer services and recommendations, including activating free and easy to use tools.
  • Digital transformation training and grants: provides grants of up to $2,500 to help businesses adopt technology and meet their digital goals.

Ontario’s plan to support care, create opportunity and make life more affordable during this period of rapid economic change includes a higher minimum wage and better working conditions, free tuition for hundreds of thousands of students, easier access to affordable child care, and free prescription drugs for everyone under 25, and 65 or over, through the biggest expansion of medicare in a generation.

Quick Facts

  • Ontario is investing $12 million in the Main Street Digital Initiative, which will be administered by the Ontario Business Improvement Area Association (OBIAA). This initiative is part of a $40 million investment over three years in the Main Street Enhancement Initiative.
  • OBIAA will work with Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas and City of Toronto to expand and complement an existing digital main street program currently available to businesses in Toronto.
  • Main street areas across Ontario are largely comprised of small, independent businesses.
  • About one-third of Ontario workers are employed by small businesses, which are businesses that employ less than 100 paid employees.
  • To strengthen Ontario small businesses, the province is investing more than $500 million over three years in new initiatives that include lowering the small business tax rate by 22 per cent from 4.5 per cent to 3.5 per cent, investing in youth employment, providing support for downtown main street businesses, and cutting red tape.
  • Small Business Access resources for small business owners are available online at or over the phone at 1-888-999-5970.

Additional Resources


“We are excited to support small businesses as they seek to enhance their digital capabilities. The Main Street Digital Initiative will provide access to tools and expertise in order to capitalize on the new opportunities that can be realized through technology.”

Jeff Leal

Minister Responsible for Small Business and Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

“Ontario’s main street businesses know the importance of being online. The Ontario Business Improvement Area Association is pleased to work with the Ontario government to help ensure main street businesses succeed by improving their digital skills and ability to tap into the latest trends of today’s digital economy”

Kay Matthews

Executive Director, Ontario Business Improvement Area Association

“As a main street area business in Markham servicing entrepreneurs and the small business community, I see my digital and physical presence completely integrated. Community engagement happens both online and in person for the Village Hive. To fully reach the community I’m looking to connect with, I have no choice but to have a strong digital presence. I look forward to getting useful digital tools and learning about new ways of growing my business.”

Charlotte Kirby

Owner, The Village Hive

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