Virtual Business Breakfast

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North Dundas Chamber of Commerce, in conjunction with the Township of North Dundas, held their virtual breakfast bright and early on February 26. Two presenters, Doreen Ashton Wagner, Covid-19 Business Relief Advisor at Cornwall Community Futures Development Corporation [CCFDC], and Andrew Seguin of Seguin Financial, presented on the Covid-19 Relief Program Update.

In addition to bringing your own breakfast, a strong cup of decent coffee would have been a good recommendation, for the information was flying. Stephen Mann, Economic Development and Communications Officer, has posted the entire presentation online on the North Dundas website. It was jam-packed with information. northdundas.com/business/community-improvement-plans.

Both Doreen and Andrew are in place to help businesses navigate the very new and challenging waters of the federal and provincial relief and assistance programs intended to help businesses get through this unprecedented environment. Information keeps changing, thanks in part to the ongoing and volatile nature of the virus and the pandemic, but also because decisions were made early on in the pandemic, that required clarification and modification as time passed. In addition to changing rules concerning the various relief programs, it is very apparent that the devil is in the details. There are strict rules about how and when to pay back loans and grants, and what you can use the money for. Missing a deadline, or contravening a stipulation of a relief program, could mean you would forfeit the grant portion of a relief payment.

The loans from the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA), for example, must be paid back by December 31, 2022, or the business cannot keep the forgivable portion of the loan. The CEBA provides loans for businesses up to $60K, with up to $20K in loan forgiveness. The loans program has been expanded, and the new deadline for applications is now March 31, 2021.

The Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) is another program enacted to assist businesses make it through the pandemic. The application periods are in four-week increments. The current claim period is January 17 to February 13. You can apply until August 12, 2021. The next claim period will be February 14 to March 13. You must apply for the correct period though, and parameters are specific. Andrew stresses that, if a business needs this help, they most certainly should not feel bad about taking it, pointing out that in the majority of cases, rural and small-town businesses receiving money from these programs will spend it in the community.

The CCFDC is an independent third party network, not-for-profit. The board is 100% volunteer, and it is geared specifically to Rural Entrepreneurs. CREATE [Cornwall Regional Entrepreneurs Artists & Technologists Exchange] is the former Cornwall Innovation Centre, providing support to entrepreneurs. It provides a host of Covid-related business strategies and advice. Digital Main Street is providing one-on-one mentoring and help with pivoting to online sales.

In addition to the programs discussed by Andrew and Doreen, the North Dundas Community Improvement Plan (CIP) is a community initiative that works towards improving the local business community through offering business owners and commercial landlords the opportunity to access funding through grants and loans to improve and enhance existing commercial buildings and grounds. Applications are accepted continuously. The United Counties of Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry also have a Regional Incentives Program, and the next intake is this Spring. Get in touch with Andrew, Dorreen, or Stephen Mann to find the help you need accessing and navigating the various programs.

Doreen Ashton Wagner, Covid-19 Business Relief Advisor, CCFDC, dwagner@mycommunityfutures.ca, 613-932-4333 ext 4.

Andrew Seguin, Owner, Seguin Financial, andrew@seguinfinancial.ca, 343-885-1284.

Stephen Mann, smann@northdundas.com, 613-774-2105, ext 244.

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