Next Stop: Digital Main Street

Next Stop: Digital Main Street

Opportunities. You know they’re out there; but finding them can be a challenge. Thanks to some networking in and around CoMotion, I’ve been introduced to Digital Main Street. This program provides grants for business in need of a digital upgrade. Not only is that an opportunity for businesses to enhance their capabilities, but it’s also an opportunity for digital businesses to provide those enhancements.

It is intimidating for some business owners and as a strong supporter of our local businesses, we want to be able to ease some of the burden by (providing) guidance to them based on their needs, wants, and vision for their business. DMS will allow us to do this effectively and in a community-centric way.” –  Elizabeth Edwards, Business Outreach Coordinator, Port Hope

As a freelance copywriter, being among the small business community is huge. As I’ve touched on before, often opportunities arise from being in the right place at the right time. At a place like CoMotion where a robust community of entrepreneurs exists, the deck’s already stacked in your favour. And fortunately for me, a former CoMotion member, Alison Mackenzie, invited me to a smaller networking group where I was introduced to Digital Main Street by Jodi Laking of the Hamilton Business Centre.

What it means for local businesses

While I’m certainly not an expert (just yet, anyway) on this program, based on what I know so far, every business in Hamilton should be checking this out. The long-and-short of it is that there are $2,500 grants available for businesses to build their online presence. Applicants complete an assessment of their business; then, if awarded, are required to complete valuable online training modules. This, to me, is a great way to take a holistic approach to boosting online capabilities. It’s providing tangible assets as well as the knowledge ability to effectively implement them.

Especially in a city like Hamilton, where many businesses are bracing for the LRT construction, there is ton of upside. Perhaps a storefront will have its access compromised by construction. This would help that business to grow their sales online through website enhancements and, maybe, adding e-commerce to help find and serve their customers.

A look at construction on Kitchener’s ION route.

What it means for digital suppliers.

For people like me, it’s a potential opportunity to provide the grant-winning businesses with the services they need. The Digital Main Street website includes a vendor list; this is free for digital providers to add themselves to. Of course, I jumped at this opportunity.  There isn’t any obligation for grant-winners to use businesses from the vendor list, but it’s likely to be the first directory consulted. Each profile can be pretty in-depth; providing just about everything a business would want to know about what the vendor has to offer. Plus, there is also the ability to provide incentives to grant recipients – making the entire list even more valuable to everyone.

And, as I’ve mentioned, scoring cool freelance projects is a lot about being in the right place at the right time – then, bringing a portfolio to the table that impresses. Digital Main Street is a fantastic platform to get right in front of those who are actively looking for what you have to offer.