The Town of Ponoka is partnering with the Ponoka and District Chamber of Commerce to help local businesses build a digital presence and transition to doing online sales during the pandemic.
The town will sponsor up to 20 individual businesses with the town, at a cost of $250 per business, to participate in the Digital Main Street ShopHERE program powered by Google.
The total funds being contributed by the town is $5,000 from the Municipal Operating Support Transfer (MOST) grant.
“Even prior to COVID-19, businesses had challenges with the economic downturn and the pandemic added to the various challenges business face,” said Heather Bendera, chamber executive manager, in a press release.
“For many people, online shopping is not a convenience anymore, it has become more and more a necessity. If businesses are to survive, moving to online sales will become a major factor.”
As many local businesses don’t have the resources to transition to an online platform, the town’s contribution will allow them to participate in the ShopHERE program and get started at selling online at no cost to them, she says.
“The DMS shopHERE program provided a solution and the possibility for independent business to adopt digital tools and technologies to become more resilient to future economic shocks, to provide succession planning and to open markets previously not accessible through storefronts alone.”
The ShopHERE program provides businesses with over 17 hours of hands-on support from university students to allow these businesses to sell their products and services online, explained a release from the town.
The support includes set up, training, creating of an online store front and launching the online business.
“Town council is committed to doing as much as we can to support our local businesses and help them survive during this pandemic, so when the Chamber invited us to join them in promoting this initiative to local
businesses we were very happy to get involved,” said Ponoka Mayor Rick Bonnett in the release.
“Helping our local businesses expand their online presence offers them an important advantage during this pandemic.”
In May, Google Canada announced a $1 million investment to enable Digital Main Street to expand the program to municipalities across the country.
The ShopHERE powered by Google program is available to all businesses in Ponoka that have fewer than 10 employees (or fewer than 25 if they are a restaurant or bar), are not a corporate chain or franchise, and are a registered business with a valid business licence.
Businesses interested in applying for the program can contact Bendera at 403-783-3888 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.