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Digital Development Grants

Online marketing and website Development grants of up to $2,500


October 15, 2020
By Bonny Koabel CPA,CGA

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Photo: © ant / Adobe Stock

Since the onset of COVID-19 many food retailers and eateries have began now implementing strategies to service their customers while at the same time maintaining the safety and well-being of their staff. As a result these businesses have redesigned or are looking to redesign their website to include on line ordering curbside pickup options for their customers.

If your business in the process of redesigning your website or implementing a Digital Marketing strategy one funding program that is currently opened that will assist businesses with these costs is Digital Main Street part of the Digital Transformation Grant Funding program. The Digital Main Street provides funding for training, advisory support, and grants up to $2,500 to Small Businesses that are implementing Digital Marketing strategies.

What is the objective of the Digital Transformation Grant?
The Digital Transformation Grant is available in Ontario and provides Small Businesses with:

  • The digital literacy skills they need to execute their digital transformation by completing an online training course that provides the basics of how digital technology will transform their business for success. A grant of $2,500 to assist with the execution of their Digital Transformation plan.

How does a Business Qualify for a Digital Transformation Grant?
In order to qualify for funding the Small Business must meet the following criteria:

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  • The Small Business must be located in or close to a downtown main street or a Business Improvement Area.
  • The Small Business must employ 1-10 employees (or fewer than 25 employees if they are a vending operation, coffee service or micromarket). These employees must be on payroll and tax deductions must be made.
  • The Small Business must be paying commercial property tax (commercially assessed), either directly or through commercial rent.
  • The Small Business must be a registered business in Ontario and/or is incorporated.
  • The Small Business is open for business/operating at the time of application and not a start up.

The business will be ineligible for funding if any of the following criteria apply:

  • The Small Business is purely on-line.
  • The Small Business is a franchise, including those individually owned and operated.
  • The Small business is a not-for-profit or charitable organization.
  • The Small business if not renting office space on a temporary basis (month-to-month).

The Small Business must be owned by:

  • An Ontario resident operating a business in Ontario.
  • A person or group of people 18 years age or older at the time of application.
  • A Canadian citizen or permanent resident.

In order to get started with funding go to:

Marketing New Economy

Once on the website you will need to complete the following:

  • The Digital Main Street Assessment
  • The Digital Main Street eligibility quiz
  • The online training
  • Developing a Digital Transformation Plan

Under the grant, your small business can pay for costs including security software and online payment systems. Photo: © SFIO CRACHO / Adobe Stock

Under the Digital Main Street Grant the following costs are eligible:

  • Digital Marketing costs including:
    • Hiring a Consultant, Agency or person to execute Digital Marketing initiatives
  • Website costs including:
    • Redesign or improvement of existing website
    • Development of a new website
  • Software purchases including:
    • Graphic design software
    • Productivity Software (LastPass, Hootsuite, Dropbox, etc.)
    • Social Media Software (Hootsuite, Buffer, etc.)
    • Security Software
    • Purchases of other website related software may qualify for funding. Businesses will need to be approved by Digital Main Street prior to software purchase.
  • Digital Training costs: Ongoing Digital Training courses (in-person & online) Hardware costs must be hardware deemed necessary for digital marketing expenses

Under the Digital Main Street Grant the following costs are ineligible for funding:

  • The Purchase of Microsoft Office
  • Website Hosting
  • Domain Name Renewal
  • Software Subscription Renewals
  • Microsoft Software Subscription Renewals
  • Signage and printing
  • Logo redesign and rebranding
  • Business Owner’s salary or current employee salary for executing the project
  • Costs related to land, building or vehicle purchase
  • Costs of intangible assets such a goodwill, whether capitalized or expensed
  • Depreciation or amortization expenses
  • Interest on invested capital, bonds, or debentures
  • Bond discount
  • Monthly mortgage, loan and/or rent payments
  • Refinancing of an existing debt
  • Losses on investments, bad debts, and any other debts
  • Payments of Fines or penalties
  • Costs related to litigation
  • Hospitality and entertainment costs
  • Franchise fees and/or franchise license costs
  • Lobbyist fees
  • New capital expenditures

Additional Digital Transformation Funding Available:

If your Small Business has previously received funding through the Digital Transformation Funds you may apply for funding a second time as long as all of the reporting and project receipts have been submitted for the previous funding received.

Finally Comments on the Digital Transformation Funding

  • The Digital Transformation fund is focused on Small Businesses therefore Large corporations should not apply for funding
  • Small Businesses with multiple locations are only eligible to apply for one Digital Transformation Grant.
  • Owners with multiple businesses may only apply for one Digital Transformation Grant.
  • French translation assistance is available to applicants upon request.

Case studies from Digital Main Street

Digital Transformation Funding has been available for a few years now. If your company it new to Digital Marketing or if your company would like to learn more the Digital Transformation Fund has compiled a list of tools, how-to guides and tutorials available to assist Small Businesses with embracing digital technology. To learn more on how build your online presence, using social media effectively, paid advertising, and much more go to: https://digitalmainstreet.ca/case-studies/


Bonny Koabel CPA, CGA is President of AKR Consulting Canada, a Mississauga, ON firm specializing in Government Grants, Rebates, Refunds, Subsidies and Tax Credits.