Building on its recent $250-million commitment to protect Manitoba businesses affected by current pandemic restrictions, the province is launching a new digital campaign that encourages safe local shopping.
“Businesses are vital to our provincial economy and our government is listening to the feedback and input we’ve received from the business community on how to support them through the pandemic,” said Finance Minister Scott Fielding. “Our government is making significant investments to help local businesses through the challenges of COVID-19.”
This campaign is a recommendation of the Premier’s Economic Opportunities Advisory Board. The advisory board was established in May to guide Manitoba’s plans for reopening the economy and recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are acting on this recommendation from the business community to highlight the important role all Manitobans play in supporting our local businesses during this difficult time,” said Economic Development and Training Minister Ralph Eichler. “Manitoba businesses are finding creative and innovative ways to safely offer their high-quality products and services to customers through online storefronts, curbside pickup and delivery. As we enter the holiday season, we encourage Manitobans to buy local.”
The new #ShopLocalMB campaign has enlisted a local design company to tell the stories of Manitoba businesses, entrepreneurs, makers and creators. The messages will reinforce reminders of how to shop safely, which includes using delivery, in-store pickup or drive-thru options whenever possible, and following public health fundamentals if in-person shopping is required.
“COVID-19 has hit many small businesses hard across Manitoba and they need our support now as much as ever before,” said Jonathan Alward, director, prairie region, Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses. “Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and our communities, so it’s critical that we all take part in the #ShopLocalMB campaign, especially leading up to the holiday season.”
The #ShopLocalMB campaign will be featured on the Manitoba government’s social media channels. The ministers noted this campaign builds on a number of other local campaigns to support Manitoba businesses, shops, restaurants and creators, as well as the B2B Manitoba online marketplace, which helps connect businesses with PPE and received government support.
“We appreciate all of the Manitobans who are buying local and supporting businesses like ours during these challenging times,” said Costa Cholakis, co-owner of Broadway Florists, a family-run business for the past 97 years. “This type of support will make the difference and allow us to continue on for years to come.”
“Our family business, like most local restaurants and shops, is not only proud to serve our community but also keen on giving back,” said Lisa Malbranck, owner of the Diamond Gallery and member of the Premier’s Economic Opportunities Advisory Board. “By choosing local businesses, you are encouraging home-grown initiatives and strengthening a perpetual cycle of support in our province.”
The ministers invited businesses that want to be featured in the #ShopLocalMB campaign, as well as Manitobans who want to nominate a business or creator, to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
They also encouraged businesses affected by current public health orders to apply for the new Manitoba Bridge Grant. The program provides $5,000 to eligible Manitoba businesses and organizations required to fully close their premises to the public as a result of a COVID-19 public health order. Intake opened Monday and to date, approximately 4,600 business have applied. For more information, visit gov.mb.ca.
The province has allocated up to $200 million for the Manitoba Bridge Grant should current public health orders remain in place Jan. 1, 2021, along with up to $50 million in support for business organizations to create a long-term COVID-19 recovery plan.
Fielding noted the Manitoba Gap Prevention Program created in the spring, has successfully concluded with more than $59 million in grants provided to over 5,800 businesses.
The province also recently announced it will advance payments through the Back to Work in Manitoba wage subsidy, which encourages employers to bring back employees or make new hires. Eligible employers that applied to the program on or before Nov. 9 can receive an advance payment of $1,500 per eligible worker hired or rehired under the program. Employers can now use the subsidy to rehire workers that were laid off because of public health restrictions. Program details are available at gov.mb.ca.