The City of Toronto has opened applications for the Main Street Innovation Fund (MIF) program, to help support the recovery and long-term success of local small businesses. The program will provide grant funding to Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) for innovative and creative solutions to the challenges faced by Toronto’s main street small businesses. BIAs in the city will be able to apply for the MIF to help businesses in their neighbourhood, and to contribute to small business recovery through community activations, creative placemaking and capacity building.
Small retail businesses are essential to the vitality and success of Toronto’s main streets and neighbourhoods, and key drivers of economic prosperity for residents, families, communities and the city as a whole. To assist small businesses in Toronto to recover from the impacts of COVID-19, the Government of Canada, through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), is providing up to $18 million for six programs making up the Toronto Main Street Recovery and Rebuild Initiative (MRRI).
The Main Street Innovation Fund is the latest MRRI program to open for applications. Responding to a key recommendation of the Build Back Stronger report from the City of Toronto’s Economic and Culture Recovery Advisory Group. The Main Street Innovation Fund will support innovative projects and scalable solutions which after being piloted in one area, could be applied to support small businesses and retail main streets in other parts of Toronto.
Between January 2022 and March 2024, the MIF program will temporarily replace the BIA Innovation Fund program which the City of Toronto has operated since 2018 to provide small-scale project funding to BIAs exclusively.
Depending on their scale and impact, projects approved for funding under the MIF program will receive non-repayable grants of up to $25,000 or $50,000. A select number of larger, legacy-scale MIF initiatives may receive grants of up to $100,000, provided that proponents are able to contribute in-kind or direct funding themselves to augment the total investment.
Organizations eligible to apply for and receive funding through the Main Street Innovation Fund include: BIAs, business associations and non-profit organizations, and registered charities with strong local business involvement. Funding will not be provided to individual businesses or commercial properties through this program.
The initial application period for the MIF program runs from January 20 until March 31, 2022 or when the grant funds are expended, whichever comes first. Virtual information sessions will be held on January 25 and February 3 for BIAs and other organizations to learn more about the MIF program and application process.
Learn more about the Main Street Innovation Fund.
Information about other Toronto MRRI programs is available on the Toronto Main Street Recovery and Rebuild Initiative webpage.
Grants, training and resources provided through Toronto MRRI programs are available until March 31, 2024 and aim to support small business operators, community business associations, streetscape animation and retail innovation.
“Throughout the pandemic, we have worked hard to support small businesses and the work that the Business Improvement Areas are doing in neighbourhoods across the city. As a city, we know we need to support them to ensure that they recover and succeed post-pandemic. The funding through the Main Street Innovation Fund will help us bring more vibrancy to our city streets while also supporting all of the small businesses that make this city so great. I look forward to seeing the projects that will be supported by this fund and I am confident they will help our small businesses come back stronger than ever as we recover from the pandemic.”
– Mayor John Tory
“The Government of Canada is committed to supporting the City of Toronto’s creative and innovative efforts to reanimate neighbourhoods and produce inclusive economic opportunities that will provide much needed resources to local businesses and make our communities stronger than ever.”
– The Honourable Helena Jaczek, Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario
“The Main Street Innovation Fund brings together the City of Toronto and the Government of Canada with Business Improvement Areas, community organizations and business associations to invest in the places that support commerce, workers and entrepreneurship across our city. I encourage small business operators, commercial property owners, BIAs and business and community associations to learn about the funding support available from the various Toronto Main Street Recovery and Renewal Initiative programs, including the Main Street Innovation Fund.”
– Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson (Scarborough Centre), Chair of the Economic and Community Development Committee and a member of the Mayor’s Executive Committee
“It’s wonderful to see the creativity and collaboration between levels of government, BIAs, community organizations and business associations, co-investing to assist in the recovery of small businesses. As always, I encourage our members throughout the City of Toronto to learn more about the Main Street Innovation Fund and to submit ideas for unique projects and scalable solutions focusing on the economic and social well-being of local businesses and the communities they serve.”
– John Kiru, Executive Director, Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA)
For more than 12 years, FedDev Ontario has worked to advance and diversify the southern Ontario economy through funding opportunities and business services that support innovation and growth in Canada’s most populous region. The Agency has delivered impressive results, which can be seen in southern Ontario businesses that are creating innovative technologies, improving their productivity, growing their revenues, and in the economic advancement of communities across the region. Learn more about the impacts the Agency is having in southern Ontario by exploring their pivotal projects.
Toronto is home to more than 2.9 million people whose diversity and experiences make this great city Canada’s leading economic engine and one of the world’s most diverse and livable cities. As the fourth largest city in North America, Toronto is a global leader in technology, finance, film, music, culture and innovation, and consistently places at the top of international rankings due to investments championed by its government, residents and businesses. For more information visit the City’s website or follow us on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.