More Alberta businesses go digital with investment from the Government of Canada

News release

PrairiesCan invests $3 million to help more Alberta small businesses go digital

Funding of $3 million through Prairies Economic Development Canada will help small businesses in Alberta to develop an online presence and adopt e-commerce practices

March 7, 2022 – Edmonton, Alberta – Prairies Economic Development Canada (PrairiesCan)

Small businesses are the backbone of Alberta’s economy, representing 98% of all businesses in Alberta and accounting for high-quality jobs across the province. Yet, as the COVID-19 pandemic has led to more Canadians shopping online, only an estimated one-third of Alberta small businesses are equipped to sell online.

Today, the Minister of Northern Affairs, Minister responsible for Prairies Economic Development Canada, and Minister responsible for the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, the Honourable Daniel Vandal, announced an investment of $3 million to help Alberta’s small businesses go digital through Business Link’s Digital Economy Program. This means more businesses can adapt to a changing commercial environment leading to increased economic opportunity and creating more jobs for Albertans.

The Digital Economy Program, delivered through Business Link in partnership with Digital Main Street, helps small businesses access e-commerce solutions through two streams: the ShopHERE initiative powered by Google, and Digital Services Squads. ShopHERE is a no-cost tool that helps eligible businesses create and promote their online stores, while the Digital Service Squads consist of highly trained recent graduates across Alberta who provide one-on-one assistance to help eligible businesses learn how to use digital tools more effectively.  

The Digital Economy Program was announced last October with support from the Government of Alberta. PrairiesCan funding will extend the program’s reach and increase the number of businesses that can access these services.

Over the next two years, the Digital Economy Program is expected to help support approximately 4,800 Alberta businesses. Today’s investment is in addition to previous PrairiesCan funding of $715,000 in support of the City of Edmonton and the City of Calgary’s small business digitization projects. Business Link is leveraging these initiatives and connecting them to the Digital Economy Program.

On March 3, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the launch of the Canada Digital Adoption Program (CDAP), to help Canadian small- and medium-sized businesses grow their online presence and upgrade or adopt digital technologies. With an investment of $4 billion over four years, CDAP will support up to 160,000 small businesses and create good middle-class jobs across the country, including thousands of jobs for young Canadians.

In addition, the Government of Canada has partnered with Business Link and Digital Main Street to deliver the Grow Your Business Online grant to small businesses across the country. This $2,400 micro-grant will help smaller, consumer-facing businesses, including those in service industries, co-operatives and social enterprises, adopt e-commerce technologies. 

Quotes

“Our government is working with Alberta and partners like Business Link to ensure small businesses emerge from the pandemic stronger and can take advantage of new market opportunities. Today’s investment will help small businesses across the province to reconnect with, and grow their customer bases – here in Edmonton, here in Alberta, across the Prairies, and beyond”
- The Honourable Daniel Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs, Minister responsible for Prairies Economic Development Canada and Minister responsible for the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency

“Small businesses are at the heart of Alberta’s economy and quality of life, sustaining jobs and livelihoods in communities across the province. I’m proud that our government is supporting Alberta’s small business owners and entrepreneurs to make the move towards digital tools that will help them not only navigate the challenges of the pandemic, but emerge stronger and positioned for growth.”
The Honourable Randy Boissonnault, Minister of Tourism and Associate Minister of Finance 

“Alberta’s economy is moving from recovery to sustained growth. By providing Alberta’s small business community with easy-to-use tools and resources to grow, we are ensuring that they can also grow and thrive. This investment will help even more small businesses benefit from the Digital Economy Program and expand their online presence and customer base.”
- Doug Schweitzer, Minister of Jobs, Economy and Innovation 

“This program is an incredible opportunity for small businesses across Alberta to level up their digital efforts, increasing their potential to generate more revenue online. Business Link is thrilled to partner with Digital Main Street to deliver this program in Alberta. This additional funding from the Government of Canada complements the Government of Alberta’s investment and will help us reach even more small businesses.”
Clinton Senkow, Business Link Board of Directors Chairperson

“Being able to bring Digital Main Street and our supports for small businesses to Alberta in partnership with Business Link, the Government of Alberta and PrairiesCan is very exciting. We look forward to supporting thousands of businesses across Alberta through our joint programming and creating many local job opportunities. It is more important now than ever that businesses embrace digital transformation, and we look forward to being a key cog in this journey for as many businesses as possible!”
John Kiru, Executive Director, Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA), and founder of Digital Main Street

Quick facts

  • A PrairiesCan investment of $3 million for the Digital Economy Program will extend the supports available for small businesses in Alberta to develop an online presence and adopt e-commerce practices.

  • The Digital Economy Program is delivered by Business Link in collaboration with Digital Main Street. Business Link is an Alberta non-profit that assists small business owners and entrepreneurs. Digital Main Street is a program and service that helps main street businesses achieve digital transformation. 

  • Applications for the Digital Economy Program remain open until March 2023. To be eligible for the Digital Economy Program, businesses must be registered in Alberta or an Indigenous business, have less than 50 employees, and operate as a home-based or commercial business. 

  • There is no cost to eligible businesses to participate in the program.

Associated links

Contacts

Kyle Allen
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Northern Affairs, Minister responsible for Prairies Economic Development Canada, and Minister responsible for the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency
kyle.allen@rcaanc-cirnac.gc.ca

Rohit Sandhu
Communications Manager
Prairies Economic Development Canada
rohit.sandhu@prairiescan.gc.ca

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