Michael Tremblay hopes he never has to do it again, but he’s pretty pleased with how his team at Invest Ottawa has approved 340 applications and disbursed almost $900,000 over the past month under the Downtown Ottawa Business Relief Fund.
The fund provides financial support to local businesses affected by the trucker convoy earlier this year that snarled traffic, shut off the downtown core and caused many businesses to suffer significant losses. According to a survey of 200 businesses conducted in early February by the Ottawa Coalition of Business Improvement Areas (OCOBIA), almost three-quarters of businesses located in and around the downtown core lost revenue as a direct result of the trucker convoy. Just over half of those said they would not be able to recover the lost revenues.
“This is such a new thing we’re doing and we hopefully never have to do this again but everyone is in it to help,” said Tremblay, Invest Ottawa’s CEO. “It’s been a really good process and the execution has been very strong.”
The fund is managed by Invest Ottawa, which has partnered with OCOBIA and local BIAs to be “proper stewards of the funding,” said Tremblay, adding he is proud of his team and partners, as well as the federal and provincial governments, for their roles in creating and distributing the funding.
About 1,100 applications have been received to date and roughly $866,000 has been distributed to local businesses, with 340 applications approved and 760 under review. There is a total of $30 million available in the fund.
“I feel good about where we are, we’re pushing hard with companies who were affected in the region, and I think we’re going to come close to our goal,” Tremblay said.
The fund is open to eligible businesses that were affected by the trucker occupation in Ottawa’s downtown core from January 22 to February 28 and is intended to offset operational, security and perishable inventory costs.
But, with less than $1 million distributed and approximately $13 million under review, Tremblay is encouraging businesses to apply. Funding will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis until funds are exhausted or the deadline arrives, Tremblay said.
Applications are open until April 30 and Tremblay encourages any business impacted by the occupation to take the time to apply for anywhere from $1,000 to $15,000.
“Please get your applications in and if you have any issues let us know,” said Tremblay. “We’ll do everything in our power to help anyone who is eligible.”