A no-cost application is being prepared by Penetanguishene staff, which if successful could bring in a one-year Main Street ambassador, pay for a gap analysis, and help up to 10 businesses potentially receive $10,000 each in non-repayable contributions.
“It’s a great program and we’re really excited about it and hoping for support,” planning and community development director Andrea Betty told Penetanguishene council during a regular meeting recently.
The My Main Street Program, which supports the revitalization of downtowns across Southern Ontario, provides funding through a collaboration between the Economic Developers Council of Ontario and the Canadian Urban Institute.
“There will be almost $24 million made available to Southern Ontario municipalities to take advantage of the two different streams of this program,” Betty explained.
The Local Business Accelerator Program (LBAP), the first of the two streams, would introduce the role of a Main Street Ambassador as “an opportunity for the town to receive $50,000 toward that person’s salary as well as $7,500 that could go towards expenses”, allowing the municipality to hire that position for a year.
Further to the LBAP, participating municipalities would gain access to other resources: a detailed community market profile (or gap analysis), wrap-around business support, the Main Street Ambassador Network and non-repayable contributions for five existing businesses and five new businesses.
“It’s an opportunity I think we can’t pass up,” said Betty. “It is a first-come first-serve, and so we’re hoping to get in there early.”
Applications for the LBAP began this month and extend until March 31, 2022.
One component of the Penetanguishene 2022 draft capital budget currently has preparation of a $15,000 community market profile identified, and so gaining replacement grant funding through the LBAP, to not only support the gap analysis but also further enhance economic development in the town, was a driving force behind staff’s haste in bringing the application proposal to council.
Coun. Dan LaRose asked Betty what the cost to the town would be.
“The application and the grant program ask for 25% of the cost, so in-kind contribution from the municipality,” Betty replied, pointing out that part of the Community Development budget for advertising and marketing already exist for office space cost, printing and administrative functions.
“Those moneys are already in there and that would be our in-kind contribution for the program. There’s no new funds that we would need to commit,” Betty stated.
The second stream of the My Main Street program is the Community Activator Program (CAP), a place-making stream aimed at drawing visitors to downtown cores, revitalizing communities while making them vibrant and creating inclusive streets, strips and plazas.
Funding between $25,000 and $250,000, provided as reimbursements against completed work, would be available for examples like murals, uses of empty spaces, or events. First-year applications for the CAP are only open for this month, with second-year applications opening in December.
Staff’s request to submit the LBAP application was carried by council.
The My Main Street LBAP report presented to council can be found at the regular meeting agenda page on the town of Penetanguishene website.
Meetings of Penetanguishene council are held on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month, and can be watched live on Rogers TV cable 53, or on the Rogers TV website.
Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, MidlandToday.ca