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The City of Calgary to help local businesses get online

City of Calgary joins program to help up to 90 local businesses get online this year. Photo: Metro Creative Connection

To help support local small businesses, The City of Calgary is joining the ShopHERE powered by Google program, with a goal of getting up to 90 businesses online this year.

As part of The City's funding support towards ShopHERE, MBA students will be creating online storefronts for small businesses and artists.

"Many Calgary small businesses took a hit during the COVID-19 pandemic, and several more are still unsure about how they will recover," said Mayor Naheed Nenshi. "As we navigate our reopening, we are focused on the ways we can continue to support businesses. Getting online could help Calgary's small businesses and artists be more resilient in the future."

ShopHERE powered by Google, which started in Toronto, helps independent businesses and artists build a digital presence and minimize the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In May, Google Canada announced a $1 million investment to enable Digital Main Street to expand the program to municipalities across the country, offering more businesses the opportunity to build their own online store.

Because the opportunities afforded by the digital economy are still limited if people don't have the right skills, Google's investment will also help more small businesses receive the digital skills training needed to participate in the digital economy.

The City of Calgary is piloting the program in Calgary to see if there is uptake from local small businesses and artists. The City will be helping up to 90 businesses and artists get online, putting a call out through the Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) for submissions, as well as via City social channels for those interested. Applicants will be chosen on a first come, first served basis.

"Throughout the pandemic, we have worked hard to support Calgary businesses by asking and hearing first-hand what they need from The City of Calgary," said Sonya Sharp, Leader of the Business and Local Economy team. "We were excited to offer a pilot to help businesses and artists continue their service despite the restrictions needed to help Calgary through this pandemic. It's a big step in exploring e-commerce as a way for businesses to stay open through these challenging times."

Overall, the program provides businesses with over 17 hours of hands-on support from students to allow them to sell their products and services online including set up, training and launching their online business.

"We've been focused on helping Canadian businesses of all sizes to unlock the prosperity of the internet," said Sabrina Geremia, VP and Country Manager, Google Canada. "Our $1 million investment will go towards expanding the ShopHERE program nationally, so we can help small businesses across Canada navigate the challenges ahead."