This national downtown revitalization program has two components: a community activator and a business accelerator

On January 12, 2022, Helena Jaczek, the Minister responsible for Canada‘s Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, announced the successful southern Ontario applicants for the national My Main Street downtown revitalization program.

This is a $23.25 million investment by the Government of Canada, which is delivered in partnership by the Canadian Urban Institute (CUI) and the Economic Development Council of Ontario (EDCO) to support the revitalization of 200 neighborhoods across southern Ontario.

The My Main Street program has two sub-programs: My Main Street Community Activator and the My Main Street Local Business Accelerator.

The My Main Street Community Activator provides support for community projects in southern Ontario designed to draw visitors and increase local vibrancy.
As communities continue to adapt to COVID-19, this program provides support for projects that seek to revitalize neighborhoods and reimagine public spaces including main streets, downtown strips and plazas as vibrant and inclusive places that work for everyone.

My Main Street supports placemaking, an approach that asks people to collectively reimagine and reshape public space to maximize its shared value. Placemaking can take the form of events that draw people into a community, murals that brighten neglected streetscapes and celebrate local artists, seating and temporary patios that allow people to gather safely outdoors, new uses for neglected or empty spaces, and more.

Funding will be prioritized for projects that support sustainable placemaking strategies for their geographic area and that are designed to support economic and social benefits for equity seeking groups, including Francophone, women, Indigenous, racialized groups, Black communities, newcomers, youth (39 and under), people living with disabilities, the unhoused, low-income people, Trans or non-binary people, and or LGBQ+.

Funding between $25,000 and $250,000 will be available, and provided as reimbursements against completed work.

The My Main Street Local Business Accelerator will support the revitalization of 65 main street communities by providing each with a dedicated Main Street Ambassador, customized marketing research, data analysis and non-repayable funding contributions for small businesses.

At the heart of the My Main Street Local Business Accelerator are the Main Street Ambassadors. Main Street Ambassadors are dedicated to providing hands-on business advisory support to entrepreneurs along your main street.

By participating in the My Main Street Local Business Accelerator, participating communities unlock the following resources for their Main Street neighborhoods:

  • Main Street Ambassador Non-Repayable Contribution – participating Main Street communities will receive a non-repayable contribution of $50,000 towards the 12-month salary of a Main Street Ambassador for their neighbourhood;
  • Local Business Non-repayable contributions – Participating Main Street communities will receive up to ten $10K non-repayable contributions to support local businesses. Five non-repayable contributions are available for existing businesses, while five non-repayable contributions are available for new businesses;
  • Community Market Profile – Before programming begins, each participating main street community will undergo a detailed Community Market Profile. This will involve secondary market research to understand the community’s trade area, its demographics, how residents spend their money, their mobility and how they consume media. It will also involve primary research that surveys the local community to understand what types of products and services are missing from their local community;
  • Both the primary and secondary research will be used to target opportunities for rebuilding the participating Main Street.
    Wrap-Around Business Support – With the community market profile completed, each Main Street Ambassador will focus on providing wrap-around community economic development support for both new and existing businesses; and
  • Main Street Ambassador Network – Participating Main Street communities and their Main Street Ambassadors will have access to the My Main Street Ambassador Network, which will provide leadership, guidance, tools, resources and opportunities to share and amplify best practices and success stories.

A municipality can apply for multiple Main Street Ambassadors depending on their size.

Each Main Street Ambassador will need to be focused on a defined geographic area within the municipality.

Photo courtesy of My Main Street program.

See My Main Street program website.

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