July 13, 2024

The Canadian Urban Institute (CUI) and Economic Developers Council of Ontario (EDCO) announced support for local businesses in Southern Ontario through the My Main Street program.

 $23.25 million in funding will come from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), but residents are concerned about how this money will be spent. 

“I think it was only a few years ago when Kitchener got an ‘F’ rating from the Howe Institute,” said Joshua Natev, a young entrepreneur in southern Ontario referring to Kitchener’s past financial transparency grading. “I’m not sure if things have really changed all that much.

My Main Street’s website shows only the numbers of the funding received from FedDev Ontario and that a ‘main street ambassador’ will be hired per municipality with an annual salary of $50,000.

Locator map of municipalities in the My Main Street program. Photo from My Main Street website.

My Main Street will be a two-year program to aid main streets and local businesses throughout Southern Ontario. For Waterloo Region, this will include, Downtown Kitchener, Belmont Village, Lancaster St. West, Victoria St. North, and King St. East.

My Main Street has two programs, The Local Business Accelerator, and the Community Activator Program.

The Local Business Accelerator provides each community with a “Main Street Ambassador” whose job will be to create customized marketing research, data analysis, and facilitate non-repayable funding contributions for small businesses. The Community Activator Program is designed to draw visitors and increase the local vibrancy. 

“After reviewing things I have a ton of questions and this website isn’t telling me anything,” said Natev. “Who are these ambassadors? Do they come from the community? What makes them qualified? I just don’t know.”

The “Success Stories” page on My Main Street’s website.

Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic praised the program in a press release.

“The city of Kitchener is appreciative of the federal government partnering with us in the My Main Street Local Business Accelerator program to help support these valued businesses and entrepreneurs through recovery and revitalization,” Vrbanovic said.

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