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City exploring grant to help local businesses get online

The city is looking into setting up a new grant to help local businesses get online.

At the Governance and Priorities Committee meeting on September 21st, the E-Commerce Support Grant was introduced as a way to help businesses who faced significant challenges caused by COVID-19 set-up an online store or presence. The grant would allocate a maximum of $500 per application to a small business within Lloydminster.

The proposal asked for $10,000 in funding for the grant would be taken out of the 2020 budget. The money would support up to 20 local businesses in the first roll out of funding.

Small businesses of under 50 employees would be eligible for the grant. They would also have to possess a valid business licence, be a resident business within the city and can’t be a home-based business. Applicants would have to provide evidence of expense dating March 16, 2020 or later.

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The grant could also be used for online logistics and shipping, web development, marketing and promotion of the online presence, supply chain management and cyber security.

Mayor Gerald Aalbers says helping businesses with their online presence was a need pointed out by the city’s Economic Recovery Task Force.

“We felt it was a great opportunity to help out just that little bit. We’ve hear from the business community, ‘What has the city done?’ We’ve delayed taxes and water and sewer payments through the utility bill. This is that little bit more to help that small business cover some of the costs they’ve incurred.”

Councillor Jonathan Torresan suggested the proposed requirements may be to broad and narrowing them down would do more for the businesses selected. He says he isn’t sure which is right, but does want changes made to hold the businesses more accountable.

“I would like to see a little bit more parameters around what it’s going to, just to make sure that the funds being expended by the city are accomplishing some goal that can be held accountable by the individual receiving the grant.”

The grant is still in the proposal phase and details may change over the coming weeks. Once complete, the city will be sending out an email to all businesses with a business license with more information, including when the application would be available.

A second round of grants could be considered following the 2021 budget review if the first round is well-received.

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