How to access digital marketing and website development grants in Ontario
By Bonny Koabel, CPA, CGANews Business and Operations Finance Marketing
The Digital Transfer Transformation is set to open again in June 2022. If you are in the process of redesigning your pizzeria’s website or implementing a digital marketing strategy, these costs may be partially covered by the Digital Transformation Grant funding program. 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 your small business must meet the following criteria:
- Has a permanent “brick-and-mortar” establishment in Ontario
- Employing one to 50 employees
- Is not a home-based business
- Is paying commercial property tax (commercially assessed), either directly or through commercial rent
- Is a registered business in Ontario and/or is incorporated
- Is open for business/operating at the time of application (not a startup)
- Is open to the general public for walk-in and onsite purchases of goods and services – not a wholesaler or manufacturer
- Is not a franchise, including those individually owned and operated
- Is not a not-for-profit/ charitable organization
- Is not renting office space on a temporary basis (month to month)
- Is not in a shared workspace such as a hot desk or dedicated desk
- Is not a purely online business
To be eligible for funding, the small business must be owned by:
- An Ontario resident operating a business in Ontari
- A person or group of people 18 years age or older at the time of application
- A Canadian citizen or permanent resident
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 Digital Main Street grant, the following costs are eligible:
- Digital marketing costs including:
o Hiring a consultant, agency or person to execute digital marketing initiatives
- Website costs including:
o Redesign or improvement of existing website
o Development of a new website
- Software purchases including:
o Graphic design software
o Productivity software (such as LastPass, Hootsuite, Dropbox)
o Social media software (such as Hootsuite, Buffer)
o Security software
o 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:
o Ongoing digital training courses (in person and online)
- Hardware costs:
o Must be hardware deemed necessary for digital marketing expenses
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.
Final 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 eligible to apply for only one Digital Transformation Grant.
- Owners with multiple businesses may apply for only 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 business is new to digital marketing or if you 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 apply for funding or to learn more about Digital Main Street, go to https://digitalmainstreet.ca/digital-transformation-grant-4-0/
Bonny Koabel, CPA, CGA, is president of AKR Consulting Canada, a Mississauga, Ont., firm specializing in government grants, rebates, refunds, subsidies and tax credits.
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