In August of 2021, the Government of Canada, through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), announced a $23.25-million investment to the Canadian Urban Institute (CUI) and the Economic Developers Council of Ontario (EDCO) to establish My Main Street — a two-year program to support the recovery and revitalization of main streets and local businesses in southern Ontario through two program streams.
The Town of Whitby and the Business Advisory Centre Durham Inc. (BACD) were chosen to participate in the My Main Street Local Business Accelerator program to help revitalize Whitby’s main streets. Funding through the program allowed for the hire of three, full-time Community Ambassadors: Joanne Ferns, Fari Nooristani, and JD Thomas. The program also provided the three Community Ambassadors with a Whitby Community Profile, developed by Environics Analytics. The data in the Whitby Community Profile was collected post-pandemic and highlights the major changes seen in Whitby since 2020, such as the Town’s demographics. The profile also contains valuable insights on Whitby’s psychographics, key trends in market research, and more.
In January 2022, the Community Ambassadors began their one-year tenure; Joanne and Fari took to the streets of Downtown Whitby to begin supporting main street businesses, while JD supports the businesses of Downtown Brooklin. Since then, using the data from the Whitby Community Profile, all three Community Ambassadors have worked with main street business owners to provide a practical application of data-driven analysis to help promote, manage, and grow their businesses.
In addition to the market research, businesses within Whitby have access to a range of supports and resources, including:
- Business Opportunities – Based on market data collected in Whitby, new business opportunities will be identified for local entrepreneurs to explore and initiate.
- Business Training – Local businesses can access a range of on-demand and live virtual training sessions to support their operations.
- Business Funding Support – Local businesses can receive a non-repayable funding contribution of up to $10,000 to support starting or growing their business.
If you are interested in learning more about the program, visit the BACD website.
The Whitby Chamber of Commerce will be hosting an mMornings event with Joanne, Fari, and JD, on Tuesday, May 31 from 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. Those who are interested in learning more about the program are encouraged to attend. The three Community Ambassadors will share information about the My Main Street program, and insights on Whitby’s Community Profile, as well as how to use these data-driven analytics to help with business and community recovery after post-pandemic. To register, visit the Whitby Chamber’s website.
Article written by Madeleine Riley, Town of Whitby