Overwhelming Response to Recovery Fund for Businesses, Non-Profits: Reyes

More than 1,000 registrations from businesses and non-profit organizations are moving through the application and funding process for the $15 million Digital Manitoba Initiative (DMI), Economic Development and Jobs Minister Jon Reyes announced today.

“The call for applications to help fund digital transformation was an overwhelming success, with more than 1,000 registrations in less than one week,” said Reyes. “This shows the level of optimism and drive among Manitoba business leaders and their commitment to investing in the future of their organization. The funds will be disbursed in the coming weeks, helping eligible businesses and not-for-profits transition operations to digital platforms and supporting Manitoba’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Launched on Oct. 21, the DMI offers organizations across Manitoba a low-risk way to invest in and adopt digital technology. The fund is made up of two streams to support projects ready to be implemented: TechUP digital adoption investments of up to $5,000 for fundamental tools and PowerUP digital strategy funding of up to $25,000 to evolve business models, processes and operations, improve the client and customer experience, and increase productivity.

“Investing in the technological enhancement of local business is the best way to ensure our community’s future success,” said Chuck Davidson, president and CEO of the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce, the organization responsible for administering the fund. “The DMI will enable future facing organizations to meet the changing needs of our modern economy, while increasing efficiencies and contributing to scalability.”

The minister noted that new DMI registrations have been paused to address the backlog as a panel of business and technical expert reviews submissions. As of today, the panel is sharing the following status updates:

  • 800 registrations approved, with the team working overtime to finalize all 200-plus pending files;
  • more than 200 TechUP applicants already in the process of uploading receipts for verification and payment, representing $1.1 million; and
  • 130 PowerUP applications pending submission of the required business brief detailing project goals and desired outcomes.

According to DMI’s program director, Kay Gardiner, early data analysis shows that 87 per cent of applicants represent small businesses with 0 to 24 employees, and almost 60 per cent are incorporated entities.

“A significant portion of the ask is for hardware upgrades, and there’s a definite appetite for modernizing infrastructure, improving organizational efficiencies, and increasing digital marketing activities,” says Gardiner. “What is really exciting is that registrations have come from virtually all sectors: from arts & entertainment organizations, to retail, professional services, construction, manufacturing, educational agencies, and more.”

Gardiner noted that 14 per cent of applicants requested funds for website development, and that the DMIs spin-off economic impact will be considerable as funded applicants engage with IT consultants, hardware/software suppliers, digital marketers, application developers, software training/cyber security training professionals, product photographers, and other providers to realize their plans.

“The bottom line is that we are absolutely thrilled with the DMI’s results, as Manitoba organizations are clearly excited to invest in essential, beneficial digital upgrades,” said Davidson. “Pandemic economic recovery is going to be a long road, but we know that technological enhancements will increase efficiency, improve service delivery capabilities, and deliver an ability to expand to new markets. MCC is proud to be able to boost digital capabilities and contribute to our business community’s agility, prosperity, and longevity.”

The DMI is funded by the Province of Manitoba’s $50 million Long-Term Recovery Fund, which also includes:

  • Dine-In Restaurant Relief,a $9 million program which closed in July 2021 after helping hundreds of Manitoba restaurants sustain operations throughout the pandemic;
  • Retrain Manitoba,a $12.5 million workforce upskilling and reskilling grant program, the most recent recovery fund stream, administered by MCC and Economic Development Winnipeg; and
  • Support Local,a $1.5 million investment that encouraged Manitobans to shop local by supporting goodlocal.ca in the expansion of its online shopping platform and funding local chambers of commerce and other not-for-profit associations’ regional buy local programming and awareness campaigns.

For more information on the Digital Manitoba Initiative, visit: www.digitalmanitobainitiative.com.

 

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