The City of Kitchener, in partnership with the Waterloo Region Small Business Centre and area municipalities, is launching a Small Business Recovery Outreach Program to support small businesses and entrepreneurs as they plan for the reopening of Ontario’s economy and begin their own recovery from the impacts of COVID-19. The new program is part of the economic relief package approved by Kitchener City Council earlier this week. “We understand that recovery is new to everyone, business owners included,” said Cory Bluhm, Executive Director of Economic Development. “Entrepreneurs are the heart of our community and they’ve been incredibly adaptable during this time. We’re hoping to make their lives a little bit easier as they move towards reopening.”
This free program, which is geared to supporting small business of all kinds, including restaurants, retail, personal services and hospitality businesses, provides tailored resources to local entrepreneurs and small business owners. Through the new program, City of Kitchener staff will be conducting interviews with a cross-section of local small businesses as they begin to plan for reopening and recovery. Based on their unique circumstances, each participating business owner will be provided with suggestions on available programs and services available to assist them in their recovery efforts.
“We know that businesses in our community are struggling, both to survive and to determine how they’ll begin to recover, and the amount of information available to them can be overwhelming,” said Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic. “We want to ensure local businesses have access to the best possible resources to set them up for success in their recovery. The Small Business Outreach Recovery Program will provide that to them. We’ll be offering one-on-one personalized support to as many businesses as we can.”
Additionally, through these interviews, staff will collect information about the common challenges local businesses are experiencing so that additional supports can be developed. In partnership with the Small Business Centre, a small business recovery toolkit will be created which will be available to any business in Waterloo Region. Other programming and services, such as webinars and peer-to-peer groups, will be developed where gaps in supports exist.
“What we’re really trying to do is understand what our small business community is struggling with and respond with helpful resources and programming,” said Chris Farrell, Manager of the Waterloo Region Small Business Centre. “We’ve been listening to business owners, and this is what they have been asking for. It is a rare opportunity to provide personalized support to many businesses, while simultaneously developing effective resources for our entire business community.”
Aside from this new support and outreach, resources that are currently available to local small businesses through the Waterloo Region Small Business Centre include: access to a digital service squad to help them adapt to e-commerce, connection to peer-to-peer support groups, access to advisors, webinars, wellness seminars and business training tools.
The Small Business Outreach Support Program is open to small businesses across Waterloo Region. Local municipalities, including the cities of Waterloo and Cambridge, will also be supporting small businesses through the program. Businesses can learn more about the Small Business Recovery Outreach Program, or request a one-on-one interview, by visiting: www.waterlooregionsmallbusiness.com