Small business programs in Toronto to get $3.3 million for post-pandemic recovery

27 November 2023 / by Met Radio

Toronto’s Main Street Recovery and Rebuild Initiative (MRRI) will be receiving additional funding by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario.

Announced on Nov. 23 at the Uma Nota Culture’s Art Vessel, the MRRI will be receiving $3.3 million from the federal government. The money is for non-profit and small business “recover from impacts of the pandemic.”

“Supporting Main Street is really about supporting the real economy. It’s where we live, it’s what we relied on throughout the pandemic, and we cannot afford to lose a single business,” says Coun. Alejandra Bravo.

Applications for this round of funding will be open from Dec. 7 to March 7, with the Main Street Innovation Fund as the outlier: it is currently open for application until Dec. 14.

The money is just over half of the funding going to non-profit organizations. With the split being $1.9 million for non-profit and $1.4 million for “to support renovations to retail spaces used by small businesses in neighbourhoods across Toronto.”

“We’re seeing across the whole city, spaces for the creation and celebration of art have started to become more rare and become lost here on Geary (Ave.),” says Kristyn Gelfand, managing director of Uma Nota Culture. “We’re standing in the art vessel. It’s a repurposed and renovated shipping container that acts as a gallery and artists studio with ongoing residencies for local artists. Not only did the (MRRI), help us in the actual physical creation of the space, but the ongoing artists fees that we pay to residents and for local events.”

The MRRI started in 2021 during the pandemic to help small businesses deal with the impact of the epidemic. The federal government will be contributing $18 million to the MRRI. It comprises seven “sustainable economic recovery projects” that the money is split between. They are:

  1. The Main Street Innovation Fund
  2. CaféTO Property Improvement Program
  3. The Commercial Space Rehabilitation Grant Program
  4. The Retail Accelerator Program
  5. The Transit Expansion Construction Mitigation Grant Program
  6. Little Jamaica/Eglinton West
  7. PlazaPOPS

In the two years of the program, the MRRI has funded 325 “local projects,” amounting in $9.4 million in funding towards small businesses and non-profits. The seven projects offer small businesses anywhere from $20,000 to $100,000 depending on what they qualify for.

“Three of our most important MRRI programs are about to open new rounds of applications. That funding will be available soon, all together will be providing $3.3 million in funding,” says Councillor Shelly Carroll. “We all know what happens when there’s a lot of vacancy on a block and it challenges all those businesses that are still in place trying to survive. And so this will help that turnover happen more quickly and get another small enterprise up and running.”

For more information on the MRRI, visit here.

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