Hard-hit Ottawa small businesses to get federal funding, marketing support

Michelle Groulx
Michelle Groulx is the executive director of the Ottawa Coalition of Business Improvement Areas. File photo

Five Ottawa neighbourhoods have qualified for a federally backed program that offers funding, mentorship and marketing advice to pandemic-battered mainstreet businesses.

The Bank Street, Preston Street, Somerset Chinatown, Sparks Street and Vanier business improvement areas said this week they have been chosen to participate in the My Main Street Local Business Accelerator.

The joint initiative of the Canadian Urban Institute and the Economic Developers Council of Ontario aims to help revitalize small businesses in economically disadvantaged neighbourhoods and areas that have been hit hardest by COVID-19.

Yukang Li, the executive director of the Somerset Chinatown BIA, said the program “came at the perfect time” to fund much-needed projects in the community just west of downtown.

$10K grants

Funded by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, the My Main Street program includes $50,000 to help pay the salaries of neighbourhood “ambassadors” who will offer hands-on support and advice to members of each selected BIA over the next year.

Businesses in each neighbourhood will also be eligible for up to 10 grants of $10,000 apiece, with five earmarked for established operations and the remainder allocated to new enterprises.

Marketing experts will also provide a detailed breakdown of demographics, spending habits and media consumption patterns in each neighbourhood to help BIAs better understand what types of products and services are missing from their communities.

Michelle Groulx, the executive director of the Ottawa Coalition of Business Improvement Areas, said the program will supply participating retailers with “with valuable tools to move from economic recovery to growth and success.”