Photo By: Scott Graham from Unsplash

The downtown and Merritton neighbourhoods of St. Catharines will take part in the My Main Street Local Business Accelerator initiative, which will help revive the city’s main streets. 

Towards the end of 2021, the federal government made a series of investments in the Economic Developers Council of Ontario (EDCO) to establish the My Main Street program. This two-year program is designed to aid in the rehabilitation and redevelopment of southern Ontario’s local businesses and major streets. 

The program is expected to be beneficial to both new and current businesses in the community and will specifically assist underrepresented groups become entrepreneurs, ensuring that the city’s streets reflect greater diversity, equity, and inclusion.

The initiative will be administered at the local level in communities across the province. Here in St. Catharines, it will be handled by the city’s economic development and tourism services department, with assistance from the EDCO.

As part of the program, a dedicated main street ambassador, tailored market research, data analysis, and non-repayable monetary contributions for new and current small businesses will be provided to St. Catharines’ downtown and Merritton main street neighbourhoods. The city will also receive ten non-repayable grants totaling $10,000 to support local businesses. The grants will be given to five existing and five new businesses.

The main street ambassadors are at the centre of the accelerator program. The ambassador who will be assigned to St. Catharines will assist businesses with hands-on business consulting. Businesses, through their ambassadors, will also have access to the My Main Street Ambassador Network, which will offer leadership, advice, tools, and resources. The program will provide the city with a $50,000 payment to help cover the ambassador’s salary.

Each participating main street community will go through a full community market profile before the program begins. This will entail secondary market research to better understand the community’s trade area, demographics, how inhabitants spend their money, mobility, and media consumption. It will also include primary research, such as surveys of the local population, to determine what sorts of products and services are lacking in their community. This research will be used to identify opportunities for reconstructing the main streets in Merritton and downtown St. Catharines. 

After completing the community market profile, each main street ambassador will focus on delivering comprehensive community development support to all participating businesses.

For a complete rundown of program details and to find out what participating in the accelerator means for the city, interested individuals are able to visit the program’s website.