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About the Digital Economy Program

The Digital Economy Program (DEP) is designed to help small businesses take their businesses online. This program, a partnership between Business Link and Digital Main Street, will help small businesses in Alberta undergo digital transformations and adopt eCommerce practices. DEP is open to home-based or commercial small businesses registered in Alberta with less than 50 employees. The program consists of 2 parts: Digital Service Squads guiding businesses through digital transformation and ShopHERE powered by Google guiding businesses through launching and managing their online stores. Small businesses can apply to participate in one or both programs, free of charge.

Digital Service Squad

The DSS is focused on providing 1-on-1 FREE local assistance for digital services to small businesses in any region of Alberta. It will include training and advisory support towards digital strategy development, Google My Business assistance, social media posts, taking awesome pictures for your businesses, and more.

Sign up on Digital Main Street

ShopHERE powered by Google

Get help creating and customizing your online store. You’ll be trained on how to manage and market your online store and will be provided with the support that you need to make your online shop successful. Access free 1-on-1 support to build and launch your store, and more.

Sign up on Digital Main Street

FAQ

Business Link and Digital Main Street (DMS) are collaborating to implement the Digital Economy Program to deliver support to Alberta small businesses.

The Digital Economy Program will include two core streams: ShopHERE powered by Google and the Digital Service Squads (DSS).

Squads are free resources of trained youth across Alberta who will deliver personalized, 1-on-1 assistance designed to help small businesses navigate new digital tools and optimize their use to reach potential customers in existing and new markets. Small businesses will meet with these trained specialists, at no cost. The Squads will help the business complete an online assessment, and then introduce them to online training modules to build their digital knowledge and skills. This 1-on-1 Squad assistance includes support for basic website set-up, Google My Business profiles, 360º photos, creation, or enhancement of social media presence, and much more.

To be eligible to be a part of the Digital Economy Program, businesses must fit the following criteria: 1. Home-based or commercial businesses, 2. Small businesses registered in Alberta, and 3. Less than 50 employees (this includes self-employed business owners with no employees) Non-profits, charitable trusts and franchises are not considered eligible businesses under this program.

There is no cost to eligible businesses to take part in the program. However, there is a requirement for participating businesses to commit time to the program. The amount of time you will be required to commit to this program is dependent on what services you are utilizing. Your active involvement is essential for your success. This program is funded by the Government of Alberta.

Apply for the program that you feel best fits your needs. Once you are approved for the Digital Service Squad program, you will complete a digital assessment with the squad member to help determine which program may best suit your needs. After that, the program goes into full swing to support you.

Business Link, an Alberta-based non-profit that helps entrepreneurs navigate the steps toward starting, running and growing their own businesses. Business Link and Digital Main Street are administering the grants and supporting the program delivery. Specifically for the Digital Service Squad activations across the province, Business Link will be working in collaboration with Digital Main Street to support local Digital Service Squads to help deliver the on-the-ground Squad support.

Applications will be accepted until March 31, 2023.

The program launched in August 2021.

The program ends on March 31, 2023.

Once your application has been received, the team will assess eligibility and a squad member or a eCommerce Coordinator will contact you shortly afterwards. For ShopHERE powered by Google Program, you will be notified within 3 business days by an eCommerce Coordinator. For the DSS Program, you will be contacted by a Digital Service Squad Team Member soon after your eligibility has been reviewed.

Once your business is selected for the DSS Program, you will be assigned to a squad member. You can identify suitable times to work with the assigned squad member, who will also help with the digital assessment process to determine specific needs and next steps in the process.

Time to complete the program will be dependent on several factors unique to your situation. For DSS services, that timeline will be determined by your squad, and for ShopHERE the timeline is anywhere between 2-6 weeks to have your eCommerce store up and running.

Yes, eligible Alberta-based businesses can apply for either or both programs in no particular order

You need an Alberta registered business because it’s one of the eligibility requirements. For small businesses located in Indigenous communities – please reach out to the DMS Program Manager ([email protected]) for more information on business registration requirements.

Yes, we will consider applications on a case-by-case basis.

If you don’t have a business registered in Alberta, you are not eligible to apply for this program. Please contact Business Link directly to see how we can help you.

The structure of your business (Incorporated, LLC, Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, etc.) is not an eligibility factor. As long as you meet the 0-49 employees and have an Alberta registered business, you are eligible to apply. Please note that non-profits, charitable trusts and franchises are not eligible under this program.

Great! We want to support your growth. You are only required to be 49 employees, or less, at time of application.

Yes, however, the program is available on a first-come, first-serve basis. There is no guarantee there will be space available in the future if the program runs out of funding. You can also contact Business Link directly for support.

Yes. The ShopHERE powered by Google is designed to deliver an e-commerce website for your business.

Your business may not be approved if you are missing requirements, or it doesn’t fit the eligibility requirements.

You may re-apply for the program, once you meet the eligibility criteria.

The program is designed to support your digital needs, a digital assessment will be conducted at the beginning of the program. Anything that falls outside the scope of the program should be forwarded to 1-800-272-9675 (Business Link) [email protected]

A digital assessment is an audit of where your business is currently at using digital tools. We will use this assessment to determine the next steps for your digital transformation to best support your business.

The program will run until March 31st, 2023, and we are aiming to support at least 5,000 businesses across Alberta.

The Digital Economy Program is available to eligible businesses on a first come first serve basis, for as long as funding is still available.

Because the scope of the services provided by DSS is vast and varied, it is advised that businesses work with local squad members to determine the number of hours of support required in initial meetings.

We expect participating businesses to work with their assigned squad member to complete the program. After that, it’s important you have a plan in place to continue the development. Contact Business Link directly to discuss other services and support that may be available.

The Digital Service Squad will work directly with you to determine how best to support your success to kickstart the digital activity. You can book the time that works for you and in fact it is advisable to book time with your assigned squad member over a period of 8-12 weeks to allow you time to build on the initiative.

Once you complete the program, and you still need support, please connect with Business Link directly and we will support you with your ongoing needs.

If you need technical support, your Digital Service Squad can assist you while you are in the program. There will be a number of webinars and educational workshops available, and there are Business Support Officers available within Business Link. You may also hire your own tech support or go through the Business Link Support Alberta Directory or DMS Vendor Directory.

If there is no Digital Service Squad in your area, there is a central Business Link Digital Service Squad available. If you are an eligible business, you will have access to the central Business Link’s Digital Service Squad.

Yes. The ShopHERE powered by Google is designed to deliver an e-commerce website for your business.

The Digital Economy Program is free for eligible businesses to access, once approved. There is no cost to participate.

The amount of time you will be required to commit to this program is dependent on what services you are utilizing. Your active involvement is essential for your success and the support provided to your business. On an average business spend 10-12 hours with squad members. The timeline for ShopHERE is anywhere between 2-6 weeks to have your eCommerce store up and running.

Once the program is finished, there are several Business Link services available to support your ongoing growth and success. Visit the Business Link website for more information or contact 1-800-272-9675 (Business Link) [email protected]

Absolutely, you will get an opportunity to provide formal feedback via a survey at the end of your support service. We encourage you to also give ongoing feedback to the Program Administrators.

If there are any challenges or issues during the program, we encourage you to connect with your Program Administrator.

If you would like to learn more about the Digital Economy Program, or Business Link, visit https://dep.businesslink.ca/ or contact our Business Link team at [email protected]

If you are interested in learning more about Business Link and the other services, contact 1-800-272-9675 (Business Link) or [email protected]

Program Delivery Partners

Proudly funded by:

Business Link is a nonprofit organization in Alberta that provides personalized support for small business owners and entrepreneurs starting or growing their businesses.


They provide one-on-one coaching and advice, market research, access to experts, training, education sessions, and specialized support for Indigenous and immigrant entrepreneurs. Since 1996, Business Link has been passionate about providing support services that will build business success in Alberta. Business Link is funded by the Governments of Canada and Alberta.

Business Link Website

Digital Main Street is a program that helps main street businesses achieve digital transformation. The program is built around an online learning platform, structured training programs, and the Digital Service Squad, a team of street-level team members who help main street businesses grow and manage their operations through technology.


Digital Main Street was created by the Toronto Association on Business Improvement Areas (TABIA) with direct support from the City of Toronto. DMS is also supported by a group of strategic business partners, including Google, Mastercard, Shopify, Microsoft, Facebook, Intuit QuickBooks, and Square.

Digital Main Street Website

Your customers are waiting for you online.

Increase your digital presence, grow your sales, and reach new customers online. Get started with a Digital Service Squad today.

Check My Eligibility for the DEP