Startup Lloydminster is looking to help more Lloydminster businesses get online and improve their digital presence.

Startup is taking applications for the ShopHERE program. ShopHERE is a Canadian initiative aimed at minimizing the impacts of the pandemic on businesses throughout the country. The program matches participating businesses with students to improve their online stores as well as provide them with tools and benefits from partnering organizations such as Shopify, Google, Square, Microsoft, Intuit Quickbooks and Mastercard.

Startup Executive Director Tess Wack says the program can help businesses optimize their current website as well as help set-up a new website or online store service for businesses that don’t already have one. She adds building up an online presence will allow businesses to expand their customer base and keep them competitive with others in their respective industries.

The program is a partnership between Startup Lloydminster, the Lloydminster Chamber of Commerce, Community Futures Lloydminster, the City of Lloydminster and the East Central Alberta Regional Innovation Network. Wack says the partnership allows for them to provide the program to 25 businesses in the community at no initial cost.

“There are some ongoing costs with the website hosting, Shopify and things like that but you’re not having to make the initial large investment for the bulk of the costs of setting up a website. That’s where the student comes in through the ShopHERE program.”

She says she’s heard nothing but good things from participating Lloydminster and area business-owners.

“All the feedback we’ve received from everybody has been very positive. The ones that have a website really liking how it’s making them think outside the box and look at things differently. The ones that didn’t have a website are loving the ease of getting that online store.”

Wack also wanted to encourage local business-owners and entrepreneurs to get in touch and take advantage of their other support programs.

“We’re here and ready to help the businesses in our region and community. If you are just starting a business and need help launching we can support you in that. If you are an existing business looking to grow, pivot or make it through the pandemic we can connect you with a great network of  partners and mentors. We’re here to help the business in our community.”

In May 2020, Google Canada announced a one-million dollar investment to expand the ShopHERE program throughout Canada.