The British Columbia government has launched a new grant program to help small and medium sized businesses market their products online.
A press release from the government says it is investing $12 million to help businesses launch or update their online stores in order to increase their sales revenues, be competitive and grow, adding that up to 25 per cent of the program will be reserved for regional and Indigenous businesses.
“Businesses need access to the tools and supports that will help them adapt and pivot during this uniquely challenging time,” Ravi Kahlon, B.C. minister of jobs, economic recovery and innovation, said in a statement on Wednesday.
“This program will provide business owners with the ability to expand their online presence and create a customized e-commerce site that will give them the boost they need to keep moving forward.”
The grants provided by the program will give businesses up to $7,500 each, which can be used to fund a variety of online expensives, such as creating an online inventory system, advertising costs and training staff to manage the website.
David Nicholls, the general manager of Vancouver Island Brewing, said that they had launched an online shop within 48 hours after the lockdown and while they were happy to have it up, they realized that the online store could not meet all of their needs of shipping beer.
“We are excited by the possibility of receiving a grant from this program so we can enhance our website and share our locally crafted beers with customers across B.C.,” Nicholls said.
The grant program is part of B.C.’s $10 billion COVID-19 response, which includes Stronger B.C.: B.C.’s Economic Recovery Plan, a strategy that is meant to protect people’s health and livelihoods by supporting businesses and communities.
In a tweet, Todd Stone, the B.C. Liberal opposition critic for jobs, economic recovery and innovation, called the grant too late for most businesses and “not going to help those trying to keep their lights on.”
Instead of fixing biz recovery grant fiasco (only $12mill of $300mill dispersed in last 5 months), Jobs Minister announces new e-commerce grant which would have been useful last spring, and won’t be a priority for many small biz hanging by a thread #bcpoli https://t.co/ipmqJoPVN9
— Todd Stone (@toddstonebc) February 3, 2021
According to the press release, as a part of the application process for the grant program, businesses will be required to to develop a proposal that shows how they plan on using the funds.
The program is also based on a first come first serve basis and will run until March 31, or until all the funds have been distributed.