#tbayInSeason Connects Consumers to Local Food
Locavores in the Thunder Bay area will soon have a new way to support local farmers and producers. As part of the Digital Main Street Lab, the Thunder Bay and Area Food Strategy (TBAFS) has been selected to create and pilot #tbayInSeason, a digital directory that connects consumers to producers, restaurants and merchants that serve locally grown and produced food. Funding support for this project is made possible through the Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade (MEDJCT).
Developed by Beanstalk Consulting and launching on February 22nd, the tbayInSeason.ca site will feature several dynamic components, including an online directory for primary producers and local food processors; links to local food markets and retailers; profiles of local restaurants and how they use local foods; information on agri-food related events such as festivals or agricultural fairs; and resources and learning opportunities. The site will serve as a valuable promotional tool, helping to strengthen Thunder Bay’s local food supply chain and making it more resilient.
The project’s goal is to onboard 75 businesses that sell locally grown or produced food. TBAFS has now received commitments from 64 businesses.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has shown us how important our local agri-food sector is to our health, our social well-being, and our economy,” says Karen Kerk, TBAFS Coordinator. “Before Covid, info about local food was available in a piecemeal way, but now it’s all consolidated under one virtual roof. TbayInSeason.ca will help to profile and solidify support for local food by making it easy for consumers to find and continue supporting local food businesses.”
“Supporting local small businesses today is an investment in Ontario’s tomorrow,” said Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade. “Through tbayInSeason.ca, Ontarians can discover all the good things that are grown and produced right here in Northern Ontario and support their local food businesses. I applaud the Digital Main Street program that is helping to connect small businesses with new customers.”
“Ontario’s small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and their recovery is critical to Ontario’s recovery,” said Prabmeet Sarkaria, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction. “I am pleased that the DMS lab is working with the Thunder Bay and Area Food Strategy on this creative digital directory that will make it easier for consumers to support local businesses. When small businesses succeed, Ontario succeeds.”
“Shopping local and supporting main street is as important as ever. We're excited to launch the DMS Lab pilot with the Thunder Bay and Area Food Strategy to create a digital one stop shop for local food offerings,” said John Kiru, Executive Director of the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas.
The trend to support small business and eat locally produced food has increased in recent years. Existing supply chain challenges have been exacerbated by COVID-19 restrictions, making tbayInSeason.ca a timely and valuable resource. The Digital Main Street Lab seeks to pilot projects that help small businesses explore new ways to connect with customers. Pilot projects run until March 31, 2021.
About Digital Main Street
Digital Main Street is a program that helps main street businesses achieve digital transformation. The program is built around an online learning platform, structured training programs, and our Digital Service Squad, a team of street-level team members who help main street businesses grow and manage their operations through technology.
Digital Main Street was created by the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA) with direct support from the City of Toronto. DMS is also supported by a group of strategic business partners, including Google, Mastercard, Shopify, Microsoft, Facebook, Intuit QuickBooks, Square, and Yellow Pages. A $42.5 million investment from FedDev Ontario and an additional $7.45 million from the Government of Ontario brought together the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas, Communitech, Invest Ottawa, and the Ontario Business Improvement Area Association to expand the Digital Main Street Platform in order to support more businesses to go digital as a response to the impacts of COVID-19.
About the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA)
The Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA) is a non-profit umbrella organization working with the 85 Business Improvement Areas within the City of Toronto, who in turn represent more than 90,000 business and property owners
About the Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade
The Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade supports a strong economy that can provide jobs, opportunities and prosperity for all Ontarians. The ministry offers a range of programs, services and tools to help small and medium-sized businesses innovate and compete in today’s fast-changing global economy by connecting them to new markets and consumers to support economic recovery and growth across the province.
About Thunder Bay and Area Food Strategy
The TBAFS “connects food and community”. The TBAFS was established after decades of collaboration and community-led efforts to create a more healthy, equitable and sustainable food system for the region. The TBAFS is guided by a Strategic Action Plan that promotes regional food self-reliance, healthy environments, and thriving economies.