Haldimand to hire Main Street ambassadors

Haldimand to hire Main Street ambassadors

Norfolk eyes second intake of federal revitalization program

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Downtown merchants across Haldimand County will receive expert advice and data-driven market research this year thanks to a $115,000 grant from the federal government.

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Haldimand is one of 65 applicants to receive funding as part of the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario’s My Main Street program. The $23.2-million fund will support 106 “place-making” projects in urban centers across the province.

Haldimand will use his share to hire two staff members for one year to serve as “Main Street ambassadors” in Caledonia, Hagersville, Jarvis, Selkirk, Cayuga and Dunnville.

“The My Main Street program focuses on creating and maintaining vibrant and inclusive local main streets providing residents, new entrepreneurs, and existing businesses with economic opportunities on our main streets,” Lidy Romanuk, Haldimand’s manager of economic development and tourism, said.

“All six of our main street communities will benefit from a dedicated main street ambassador, customized market research, data analysis and non-repayable funding contributions for new and existing small businesses. Each ambassador will cover 3 downtowns.”

Romanuk says Haldimand council will learn more about the program at its Feb. 8 committee meeting.

For its part, Norfolk County was not mentioned in Wednesday’s announcement. Brandon Sloan, Norfolk’s general manager of economic development, said the county did not have a project ready when the first intake for My Main Street applications was announced last year. A second intake was announced late last year, and Sloan says Norfolk is weighing its options. The deadline for submissions to Round 2 is Feb. 1.

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“Unfortunately, there was very limited time available on the notice of Intake One which did not allow for a formal submission of any ‘shovel-ready’ project,” Sloan said. “Staff did connect with local BIAs and community groups to ensure they were aware of the grant and provide any support.”

In a news release, the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario says My Main Street is designed to facilitate a rapid rebound in commercial activity in downtown cores once the COVID-19 pandemic subsidies.

“This program was designed to renew the connection between people and commercial spaces in their neighborhoods by supporting activities, events, and local improvements that will encourage the return of foot traffic to neighborhoods, when it is safe to do so,” the agency said.

Heather Lalonde, CEO of the Economic Developers Council of Ontario, welcomes this investment in resiliency at a trying time for everyone.

“Main streets that combine place-making and a diverse business balance result in successful local economies,” she said in a statement. “This project enables communities to ensure that both are possible. Thanks to the support of the Federal Development Agency for Southern Ontario, communities in southern Ontario will have the resources to establish a strong foundation moving forward.”

Applying to the $23.2 million fund is not limited to municipalities. Business areas improvement, chambers of commerce, and other organizations dedicated to urban re-development and revitalization are also eligible to apply. Further information is available at www.mymainstreet.ca .

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