Toronto City Council voted to continue funding the Digital Main Street Program through to 2023.
To support Toronto’s ongoing economic recovery, Council supported a motion put forward by Mayor John Tory and seconded by Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson (Scarborough Centre) to provide the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA) up to $550,000 each year in 2022 and 2023 so that critical supports can remain in place for main street businesses.
Digital Main Street was initiated by the City of Toronto and TABIA in 2016 to assist main street businesses to grow their operations with easy-to-use tools and resources. Digital Main Street is owned and operated by TABIA and is part of the City’s continued support for a strong, post-pandemic recovery for Toronto. In 2021, Digital Main Street assisted approximately 2,000 businesses in Toronto through its Digital Service Squad – teams of trained students and/or recent graduates with strong technology and digital marketing skills that communities can access to provide to their business members – and workshops series.
Continued City funding will help supplement costs for TABIA associated with Digital Main Street Program delivery in Toronto. In 2022 and 2023, Digital Main Street staff will be focused on supporting businesses in underserved areas of Toronto not currently represented by Business Improvement Areas (BIAs). Staff will be trained by the City’s Business Improvement Area Office on various City programs available to small businesses, so that they can make the businesses they work with more aware of these supports and opportunities. This approach is designed to take full advantage of the direct touch-points which Digital Main Street Digital Service Squad staff have with local business operators in their communities.
Since 2018, the City has provided funding for Digital Main Street’s Digital Service Squads, through TABIA, to provide targeted support to small businesses in Toronto. This service was initially focused on BIAs, but has since expanded to be able to assist main street businesses in neighbourhoods across the city.
Digital Main Street currently has up to 10 Digital Service Squad members serving businesses in Toronto, as well as delivering bi-weekly workshops for Enterprise Toronto.
Interested business owners can sign up for the program for help to create online stores for independent small businesses and artists at no cost or for help from the Digital Service Squad.