What is a Digital Transformation Grant?
The Digital Main Street Program funded by the Province of Ontario in partnership with the Ontario BIA Association seeks to help small main street businesses across Ontario improve their adoption of technologies to better promote themselves online, sell online and even run back-office processes online. Every business that wants to participate in the grant must first take an online assessment of their current technology use. Based on the assessment, the business will then develop a Digital Transformation Plan based on a template that will be provided which will detail their goals and what technologies they need to achieve those goals. To help put the plan into action, the business can then apply for a one-time grant of $2,500 to help with the costs of adopting the required technology.
The objectives of the Digital Main Street – Digital Transformation Grant program are to:
Provide main street business owners a comprehensive plan to guide their digital transformation.
Provide main street businesses with the digital literacy skills they need to execute their digital transformation either through a do-it-yourself approach and/or being a smart consumer when purchasing these services.
What Does It Cost?
A Digital Transformation grant is open to businesses who meet the following requirements:
Completed the Digital Transformation for Main Street program
- Has completed the Digital Main Street Assessment
- Has developed and submitted a Digital Transformation Plan
Must be a main street business that:
- Pays commercial property tax (commercially assessed), either directly or through commercial rent.
- Has 1-99 employees.
- Is within a BIA or located within a defined central business district or downtown by a municipality’s OP / ZBL.
- Must be a registered business in Ontario and/or incorporated.
Owned by someone 18 years of age or older at the time of application.
Owned by someone who is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.
Owned by an Ontario resident or operating a business in Ontario.
- Has not received a Digital Main Street grant previously
- Submits a Digital Transformation Plan that is approved and received a score of 35/50 or higher
- Large corporations (open to discretion) and franchises are not eligible to apply for a Digital Transformation Grant.
- Businesses with multiple locations can apply for multiple grants, but each location must have a representative complete the Digital Main Street training program
- Hiring a consultant/agency/person to execute Digital Marketing initiatives
- Redesign, Improvement of existing website
- Development of new website
- Graphic design software
- Productivity Software (LastPass, Hootsuite, Dropbox, etc.)
- Social Media Software (Hootsuite, Buffer, etc.)
- Security Software
- Other software as evidenced in the DTP
- Ongoing Digital Training courses (in-person & online)
- Hardware must be deemed necessary
- Digital Main Street reserves the right to determine what is deemed eligible / ineligible on an as needed basis. These are merely an outline and represent best practices.
Frequently Asked Questions
- DMS Digital Transformation Grant
What is the process for a business to receive a grant?
Does a business have to spend grant money with Digital Main Street?
Why does a business have to submit a Digital Transformation Plan? Is a business able to spend grant money on something outside of this plan?
How is the grant spending tracked and what is expected of a business?
How do I apply?
- There are two main phases to the grant application procedure – the training program, and the grant application and implementation.
- A business will have to complete the Digital Transformation training program, and will then complete their Digital Transformation Plan before they can apply for a grant
- Once a business has a completed Digital Transformation Plan, they will then be eligible to apply for a grant, and will submit their application for review.
- Applications will be reviewed and the business will either be awarded a grant or not based on the relevancy and practicality of their Digital Transformation Plan
- Although Digital Main Street is very selective of our partners and works with best in class companies that offer exclusive offers to the DMS community, no a business does not have to spend their grant money with a specific company. If they choose to spend it with another reputable vendor or provider, as long as it follows their Digital Transformation Plan, it is allowed.
- The Digital Transformation plan is aimed at helping provide main street business owners a comprehensive plan to guide their digital transformation.
- The Digital Transformation Plan and training program are designed to make main street businesses smart consumers and empower them to make the best decision possible when choosing to implement Digital Tools and Technologies
- A business cannot spend the grant on something outside of their plan, unless extraneous circumstances call for and are expressly approved by the Grant Approval Committee
- Businesses are required to track all spending related to the grant, and will be required to provide receipts for all expenditures
- Businesses are also required to submit a monthly report for 12 months after receiving the grant, tracking key milestones and implementation.
- Applications for Digital Transformation Grants will be live October 15, 2018 (application criteria will be finalized at that point). The process for businesses applying for a DTG has two main stages. NOTE: businesses MUST have completed their assessment, their online training and their Digital Transformation Plan BEFORE applying for a grant.