We are pleased to welcome Lee St. James to the RIC Centre team as the Program Lead for Digital Main Street’s new Future Proof program. As an entrepreneur and marketing executive with over 25 years of experience across a range of industries, she is eager to help RIC clients and community stakeholders secure funding for pilot testing projects to support local businesses. Lee joined our team in mid-September and is the key contact for any questions you have about Digital Main Street.

What is Digital Main Street?

Digital Main Street (DMS) offers programs and services to help brick and mortar businesses achieve digital transformation. The program was initially built around an online learning platform, structured training programs, and Digital Service Squads, teams of highly trained recent graduates who help businesses in BIA catchment areas to grow and adopt digital tools and technology.

COVID-19 forced businesses across Ontario to close their doors this spring and many are looking for new and creative ways to attract business. In August, Digital Main Street (DMS), in partnership with FedDev Ontario and the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, announced the DMS Future Proof Program .

What is DMS Future Proof?

DMS Future Proof is designed to have regions explore what is possible when we work together to create lasting change for small businesses and communities. It offers three streams:

1. Community Collaboration Workshops & Projects

2. DMS Lab Pilot Projects

3. Transformation Teams

Learn more here or watch the video below.

 

DMS Community Collaboration Workshop #2: October 21, 2020

Community Collaboration Projects will take real time challenges being faced by our main street businesses and pilot test workable solutions. The project is focused on bringing together community members to collaboratively identify and solve local main street challenges. Funding from $5,000 to $25,000 is available to pilot projects that address these challenges, with a total budget of $50,000 for Peel Region.

During September, Lee hosted small group introductions and led the first community workshop to encourage sharing of ideas and building connections between entrepreneurs (from both main street and the innovation community) and key community stakeholders including: municipalities, business improvement areas (BIAs), boards of trade, small business enterprise centres (SBECs), etc.

Workshop #2 takes place on Wednesday, October 21, 2020 (1 to 3pm). All are welcome to participate!

 

DMS Lab: Application deadline October 31, 2020

The Digital Main Street Lab leverages relationships between technology companies and communities to pilot innovations that encourage transformational change along main street. Ideal pilot projects are ready to launch in a community by early November and must be scalable to other businesses and communities.

DMS support involves project advice, introductions, expertise, and funding up to $25,000 per pilot project that is approved. Technology companies gain the opportunity to iterate a new or existing product offering with a main street sector partner which helps provide ‘social proof’ on the potential effectiveness of their solution.

Pilot projects must include a community partner or partners to be eligible for funding. By pilot testing through localized communities, tech companies gain access to real time feedback from small businesses to optimize their solutions before they are rolled-out across the province.

Please contact lee.stjames@riccentre.com to get her advice and input on your pilot proposal. We are here to help you! Applications are being accepted until October 31, 2020.

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