Alberta invests $ 10 million to help small businesses go digital and support e-commerce

EDMONTON –

A new program will help small businesses in Alberta create a digital presence and support their ability to conduct e-commerce.

The province will invest $ 10 million over two years to fund the digital economy program, providing businesses with guidance on how to create a digital store, as well as how to market and maintain it. Provincial funding will be complemented by a federal commitment of $ 3 million from the Department of Prairie Economic Development.

Business Link, an Alberta nonprofit that helps small business owners and entrepreneurs, will administer the two-part program in partnership with the Google-powered Digital Main Street ShopHERE initiative.

The first part of the program allows small businesses to set up or set up an online store, train employees in running an online marketplace, and provide advice on marketing the store.

Participants will receive a 90-day free trial of Shopify, $ 50 ad credit for Facebook, and a free .ca web domain.

Businesses with 50 or fewer employees and a valid Alberta Business Number are eligible to participate in the initiative. For starters, owners can apply on the Digital Main Street website.

The second part of the program, the Digital Service Squad Grant, provides funding to hire post-secondary students or recent graduates from Alberta in regional digital service support organizations.

Digital service support organizations will provide free technical support to participating businesses in their region to help them create digital strategies, Google My Business support, social media marketing, and more.

According to the government, this part of the digital economy program will not only help to employ recent graduates or post-secondary students, but it will also help businesses through individual support to increase their technological skills.

Clinton Senkow, vice president of Business Link, predicts the digital economy program will help more than 5,000 small businesses across the province.

HELPING ALBERTA’S DIGITAL ECONOMY: MINISTER OF EMPLOYMENT

Doug Schweitzer, Minister of Jobs, Economy and Innovation, said it can be a daunting task for a business to build and maintain a digital store.

“You have big international players who continue to provide other services and different advancements,” said Schweitzer. “We want to make sure small businesses in Alberta have a chance to compete and make sure they can keep up. “

“More rural businesses will now be able to create a digital presence or enhance an existing presence,” said Nate Horner, Associate Minister of Rural Economic Development.

“Ensuring that rural, remote and Indigenous communities are part of the digital economy means we can create, create and diversify jobs and business opportunities in every corner of Alberta. “

According to the province, small businesses employ more than 623,000 Albertans and represent more than 98 percent of all businesses, including nearly 45 percent of private sector jobs.

“Small businesses represent tremendous diversity and are a key driver of local economies,” said Jeffrey Sundquist, president and CEO of the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce, in a statement. “This initiative can prove that more small businesses have a critical online presence and is an innovative way to share digital knowledge as part of an inclusive economic recovery. “

“TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE”: OFFICIAL OPPOSITION

Deron Bilous, NDP spokesperson for economic development and innovation, said in a statement that funding to help businesses develop their markets online would have been more useful at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Once again, the UCP government’s response to the pandemic is too weak, too late,” Bilous said. “It took more than a year and a half for UCP to provide this support to companies in difficulty.

On top of that, many small businesses still haven’t received the financial support they were promised six months ago, and the UCP still hasn’t acted on the fee caps for delivery apps. third parties, ”Bilous added.


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