Frequently Asked Questions

My Main Street Local Business Accelerator is a program that includes mentorship, education, and typically a “pitch” or application where businesses pitch their business idea for consideration. Regardless of the type of business accelerator, it’s important to note that they are highly competitive and application processes are usually extensive to ensure the business ideas align with the market research or opportunities identified. The purpose of accelerator programs is to grow companies by nourishing them with the support, connections, and knowledge they need to be successful.

The My Main Street - Local Business Accelerator provides main street business owners within one of the 65 designated My Main Street communities access to a dedicated Main Street Ambassador, customized market research, data analysis, and non-repayable funding contributions for small businesses. Businesses in main streets outside of these 65 communities are not eligible to receive the full level of wrap-around supports, referrals and funding but can access any of the free on-demand courses, on-line training and resources.

The core objectives of the My Main Street - Local Business Accelerator program are to utilize data to drive targeted investments in a diversity of main streets, revitalize main streets with a healthy mix of retail and activities that draw their local community, and ensure residents benefit from the economic opportunities available along their main streets.

My Main Street is a $23.5 million investment in local economic recovery funded by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario). My Main Street is a collaboration between the Economic Developers Council of Ontario (EDCO) and the Canadian Urban Institute (CUI) to help support the revitalization of approximately 200 neighbourhoods across southern Ontario (excluding Toronto).

It is a two-year program that aims to revitalize neighbourhood main streets with a healthy retail mix while generating inclusive economic opportunities. The program features two funding streams: the My Main Street “Local Business Accelerator” and the My Main Street “Community Activator.” The My Main Street Local, Business Accelerator is a data-driven community economic development program focused on revitalizing main streets with a healthy retail mix, while providing residents, new entrepreneurs, and existing businesses with economic opportunities in their main street community.

Please visit our website for a list of all eligible municipalities, including a map.

We encourage main streets to apply for both the Community Activator (placemaking) and the Local Business Accelerator.

Main Streets can be defined expansively as clusters of independent businesses that are or have the potential to be hubs of commercial, social, and cultural activity in a neighbourhood. Your funding will be for a defined geographic area, for example, a commercial main street or central business district. Funding cannot be used to support programming across municipal jurisdictions.

Applicants will be informed of the status of their application within approximately two weeks (10 business days) of their submission of a fully complete application and attachments. If information is missing or incomplete, the application and attachments will be returned for updates and resubmission, resulting in a new submission date for the application.

Applications will be processed within a 1-week timeline after resubmission.

Funds cannot be used to cover owner or current employee salaries, software subscription renewals, costs of lands, building or vehicle purchases, monthly mortgages, loan and/or rent payments, business losses, fines or penalties, ongoing fees or licensing costs, any costs related to litigation or non-compliance, or to pay for any expenses committed or dated prior to the signed non-repayable contribution agreement.

Payment of wages or salaries of existing or new employees is not covered by the funding from this program.

To make informed funding decisions, applicants will be required to complete and submit an online application, as well as upload the following documents as attachments:

  • Market Research Report (completed and reviewed with Main Street Ambassador)
  • Completed Business Plan Template (for a New Business) or Business Expansion and Recovery Plan (for an Existing Business)
  • Copies of Business Registration (Letters of Incorporation, Partnership Agreement, Master Business License)
  • Verification of Commercial Property Taxes (copy of a Commercial Tax Bill or Lease Agreement highlighting its inclusion in the rent)
  • Storefront Photo (high-resolution photo of your storefront)

The Business Supports program is for “retail” main street businesses. Under this definition “Retailer means any person who sells, supplies, or offers consumer products (or services) for sale directly to consumers”.

The program focuses on B2C (Business to Consumer) not B2B (Business to Business) relationships and more specifically relationships that are transactional (monetary) in nature.

Not for profits or community agencies are not included, and therefore any other type of community support organization would not be eligible.

Eligible costs need to be matched with data derived from the market research reports and fall into the following categories: equipment, leasehold improvements, external façade improvements, inventory, technology, marketing and lease (for ‘new’ businesses only).

Examples include:

  • redesigning building interiors to be more accessible, offering different products/services to meet needs of diverse community members;
  • investing in POS or CRM systems to allow for better tracking of customers and their preferences to facilitate ease of shopping and accessibility;
  • inventory tracking software to ensure quantities meet demand;
  • surveying to understand current and potential client need;
  • ensuring display, website and marketing materials meet AODA guidelines;
  • language and translation.

The definition of ‘new’ business is particular to this program. My Main Street defines a ‘new’ business as follows:

  • A brand-new business starting in the participating main street.
  • A home-based business or business currently in shared space (co-working or commercial kitchen) locating to a retail location (commercial space) in a participating main street community; or
  • An existing business moving to a participating main street community.
  • All businesses must be sales-ready at time of funding, with a location in a participating main street community

The definition of ‘existing’ business is particular to this program. My Main Street defines an ‘existing’ business as any business already operating in the participating main street community.

The first requirement of the program is that business owners engage with their local My Main Street Ambassador to learn more about the program and process in their specific community. Need for wrap around supports, referrals and funding can vary from community to community.

All businesses must have received and reviewed the Community Profile and individual Market Research report with their My Main Street Ambassador. The application for the Non-Repayable Contribution funding must come from a need that has been identified through the Market Research report.

Also, businesses must be actively engaged with their My Main Street Ambassador and participating in the supports, mentorship, referrals and training components of the program. Funding per community is limited to five (5) new businesses and five (5) existing businesses who meet the criteria, have a business idea supported by the market research and who’s application has been successfully scored and supported by an independent review panel, and not on the quickest submission date of the required documents.

You can view the scoring matrix for each application in the Application Guide.

My Main Street aims to review and approve applications within two (2) weeks.

Yes, you will be required to submit an interim and final report on your expenditures, including copies of your receipts.

Applications will be considered on an on-going basis in each participating main street community until all ten (10) non-repayable contributions per community have been distributed. Ideally five (5) applications for new businesses will be approved and five (5) applications for existing businesses will be approved.

The monthly online mastermind sessions will be an opportunity for business owners to ask business-specific questions to get answers from the host, subject matter experts, as well as other business owners on the line. All the sessions will be recorded and made available on the My Main Street website for future viewing. To register, please, visit this page.

These webinars will occur monthly starting in April 2022 and each will have a specific topic that will include an expert and time for Q&A from attendees. Topics may include marketing, pricing strategies, market research, etc. All the sessions will be recorded and made available on the My Main Street website for future viewing. To register, please, visit this page.

My Main Street has created two on-demand video training sessions that are 3-hours each in length but split into multiple 10-to-15-minute segments (How to Start a Main Street Business and How to Grow a Main Street Business). The on-demand video training sessions are available on the My Main Street website and require businesses to log in and set up an account on the website.

Access to the on-demand courses, webinars and mastermind sessions is open to any business owner interested in learning more about starting or growing their business. You do not need to have a business in one of the 65 designated My Main Street communities to access the training. Training can be accessed by registering on this page.

Applicants for the Local Business Accelerator whose funding requests have been denied will be able to resubmit their applications after addressing feedback from My Main Street.

Yes. Funding applications submitted by BIAs or other organizations will require a letter of support from the municipality where the program will be delivered.

It is possible for a single municipality to apply for multiple Main Street Ambassadors, depending on population size.

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All applicants will receive notice of whether or not their application has been approved or denied. If an application is denied, applicants will be able to resubmit their applications after addressing feedback from My Main Street.

My Main Street Ambassador cannot be separated from the Local Business Accelerator program.

Each Main Street Ambassador can provide service to approximately 100 to 200 businesses.

Municipal, BIA or community-based not-for-profits applying for Main Street Ambassador Non-Repayable Contribution(s) will need to indicate additional funding and resources they plan to commit to the project with a minimum of 25% towards the project costs. Funding can take the form of in-kind or cash contributions.

Please view in the application guide here.

The My Main Street Ambassador is a 12-month, full-time position. The Main Street Ambassador should ideally have deep local knowledge with significant entrepreneurship experience who will connect the municipality, the community, and Main Street businesses with the wraparound supports and resources offered by My Main Street. The Main Street Ambassador unlocks all other resources, including the market research and the ten $10K non-repayable contributions.

Yes, the job description is currently on the My Main Street Site here, and other recruitment resources will be posted on the My Main Street site soon.

My Main Street will provide resources to applicants to assist with recruiting Main Street Ambassadors. Once recruited, all Main Street Ambassadors will have access to the Main Street Ambassadors Network for professional guidance, resources, peer- to-peer sharing of best practises and success stories, and regular Mastermind meetings.

The Main Street Ambassador is a dedicated full-time position. All Main Street Ambassadors will ideally have a background in economic development or business and will be able to provide insight and advice to entrepreneurs. They will be expected to understand the available business support programs that are available and have lived experience that will help them guide and assist entrepreneurs in their business needs.

The Main Street Ambassador works with the entire designated Main Street neighbourhood, not just the 10 businesses that receive non-repayable contributions.

My Main Street will fund $50,000 for this 12-month, full time position. Many applicants will choose to top up that salary with their own contribution. We expect the annual salary will vary from municipality to municipality.

The Main Street Ambassador is employed by the applicant. Part of the application process is to determine who will be the supervisor of the Main Street Ambassador.

My Main Street will fund $50,000 for this 12-month, full time position. Many applicants will choose to top up that salary with their own contribution. We expect the annual salary will vary from municipality to municipality.

In general, each Main Street Ambassador should be dedicated to one Main Street neighbourhood. The purpose of the program is to concentrate resources in specific neighbourhoods to achieve maximum impact. However, there are a number of considerations that vary from municipality to municipality, including the number of businesses in each neighbourhood, the proximity of the neighbourhoods, and the nature of the municipality (urban or rural). Please contact us to discuss your particular application.

The dedicated Main Street Ambassador will identify potential entrepreneurs and businesses based on the community market research which identifies gaps and potential in the Main Street neighbourhood.

My Main Street is partnering with Environics Analytics and other leading market research firms to provide both primary and secondary research and data analysis to guide My Main Street neighbourhoods and businesses. Each selected My Main Street neighbourhood will work with its Main Street Ambassador to provide input required to complete the research.

For each selected Main Street neighbourhood, we will conduct primary and secondary research with Environics Analytics and others to provide a comprehensive profile, highlighting gaps and potential. This research is based on standardized templates. For each local business that receives a $10,000 non-repayable contribution, market research and data analysis will be conducted to identify market opportunities.

My Main Street is developing a template with Environics Analytics which will provide a comprehensive picture of the local business and its potential for expansion and growth, to inform the investment of the non-repayable contribution.

A key part of the Ambassador program is the awarding of ten $10,000 non- repayable contributions in their targeted area. Only Main Street Ambassador neighbourhoods are eligible to access the 10 non repayable contributions. The goal will be to deliver five non-repayable contributions for new businesses and five for existing businesses; if the target for new businesses cannot be reached, any remaining contributions may be allocated to existing businesses. There is a detailed and transparent governance, selection and approval process. The businesses will work directly with their Main Street Ambassador to apply. Main Street Business Community Non-Repayable Contribution Applications will be reviewed within two weeks of submission by two representatives who must score and agree collectively to approve the non-repayable contribution. The reviewers will include:

  • My Main Street – Business Development Manager

  • My Main Street – Main Street Ambassador (from the main street community)

    More detailed information will be provided to Main Street Ambassadors.

There is no charge to the business. My Main Street is working with a specific vendor to carry out the research which will be customized to the business. To be eligible for a Business Community Non-Repayable Contribution, a business will need to complete a Market Research Report provided by My Main Street. The purpose of the Market Research Report is to help guide the business’s investment of the contribution funds.

The $10,000 non-repayable contributions for 10 local businesses per Main Street Ambassador are fully funded and do not require matching.

The Community Improvements category of the Activator program will fund above grade enhancements to a streetscape, design, landscaping and amenities that support the transformation of a specific geographic area by enhancing the physical and visual assets that can set the area apart. To discuss the details of your specific application with us, please reach out to placemaking@mymainstreet.ca

Activator projects should focus on a defined geographic areas. Applications that propose to undertake programs in multiple defined geographic areas (e.g., on multiple main streets) are also eligible.

It would qualify if the project was submitted by en eligible organization, and meets the program's eligibility criteria, including having a specific and measurable goal for community placemaking that supports connections between people and places, drives economic activity and supports the inclusion, safety and prosperity of equity-seeking groups. Projects must be in the public interest by operating in publicly accessible space, open for anyone from the public to attend, and for public benefit.

Funding awarded through the Community Activator program does not require matching contributions. The program reimburses up to 100% of eligible program costs incurred during the eligibility period (June 8, 2021 - December 31, 2021).
All above ground costs associated with placemaking activations are eligible expenses. Barricades, seating, and tables for a temporary patio are considered eligible.

All above ground supplies related to temporary placemaking activites are eligible. Renovations to existing buildings and ndirect and overhead costs unrelated to the proposed project are ineligible. Kitchen supplies could be eligible if they are directly related to the proposed placemaking project. Please refer to the Eligibity and Criteria section of the Community Activator Applicant Guide and ensure that your project identifies how it will contribute to sustainable economic and social vibrancy, and support the inclusion, safety and prosperity of equity seeking groups.

No. It is important to note that any rent expenses included in the project budget should be a direct cost associated specifically with the project. Indirect and overhead costs unrelated to the funded project are ineligible.
Labour and consultant costs are eligible expenses as long as all costs are directly associated with the delivery of the placemaking project.
We encourage collaboration on placemaking projects. Scoring will reward projects that have the capacity and appropriate partners to deliver the proposed project.

No, projects in the city of Toronto is not eligible. Find out more about Toronto’s main street recovery programs.

Community-led organizations or community groups not listed as eligible may indirectly apply to the Community Activator program by entering into an intermediary relationship or by finding a collaborator on the project who is an eligible organization. The eligible applicant must submit the application. If the application receives funding, the eligible organization enters into the funding agreement with CUI. Eligible organizations include:
– Municipality, local or regional government;
– Business improvement areas (BIAs);
– Indigenous governing body or development corporation;
– Federally or provincially incorporated not-for-profit;
Should you apply with multiple partners, please provide details of each partner's roles in your application. We encourage collaboration on placemaking projects. Scoring will reward projects that have the capacity and appropriate partners to deliver the project.

Yes, events taking place after December 31, 2021 are eligible for the first intake, but only expenses incurred during the eligibility period (June 8, 2021 - December 31, 2021) will be eligible for reimbursment.

New projects will not be judged more favourably than completed projects. We encourage applications for any projects that are planned, underway or complete.
Yes, you can apply for bringing back an annual event that was postponed or cancelled due to COVID-19 and which meets our eligibility criteria.
Projects can start or end outside the eligible program period (June 8, 2021 - December 31, 2021). However, only expenses incurred during this period will be eligible for reimbursement.

We will aim to fund projects in their entirety though there may be circumstances where partial funding is awarded on a case-by-case basis by our independent assessment committees.

All applications for Round 1 of the Community Accelerator will be reviewed and assessed by independent assessment committees in November 2021, after the application deadline has passed.

The Community Index is being developed to validate and benchmark applicant projects and to help guide our assessment of different regional applications against one another. Using aggregate data, it looks at the impact of the pandemic related to on the ground retail spend and mobility patterns, and at demographic representation. The Index will contribute to but not be determinative of award decisions. For more information on the Community Index, please see the Applicant Guide.