City receives federal funding to bolster small business supports

Supporting business, promoting main streets, and bringing focus to the downtown – those are the three initiatives The City of Calgary has supported with the latest round of federal funding.

The Government of Canada, through Western Economic Diversification Canada, is providing $1,510,000 to three key projects. The funds, which were provided under the provision they were applied before the end of March, will go toward helping Calgary’s Business Improvement Areas, our ShopHERE initiative, and the Chinook Blast winter experience. The investment will provide the opportunity for more than 1,000 businesses in Calgary to maintain or expand operations. It’s estimated this will lead to more than 1,300 jobs retained while providing e-commerce sites for up to 400 small businesses and artists.

“The availability of funding from the federal government is always welcome, but when Minister Mélanie Joly approached us, the question was, ‘Where?’” says Mayor Naheed Nenshi. “We looked at where an investment like this could make the biggest impact in the shortest time, and it was obvious. Our work with the small business community, the BIAs, and the arts and hospitality sectors over the course of the pandemic meant that we knew any investment in those areas would have a meaningful impact, and that we could put it to work quickly. For example, Chinook Blast, our mid-winter round up, started last week and is already using this funding to support artists and small businesses.”

COVID-19 has had a severe impact on businesses of all sizes across the country and on those whose livelihoods depend on them. The City of Calgary partnered with The Government of Canada to take action to support businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and protect their contributions to the Canadian economy.

“I’ve heard from countless small businesses across Canada, including those that depend on our downtown cores, about the struggles they’re facing. Business owners and entrepreneurs need support to more easily reach customers, both locally and beyond,” said the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages, and Minister responsible for Western Economic Diversification Canada. “I’m proud that the Government of Canada, through Western Economic Diversification Canada, is supporting Calgary’s downtown revitalization efforts. Together we can help Calgary businesses not just survive the impacts of the COVID-19 economic downturn, but also emerge strong and positioned for success."

The federal investment takes a strategic approach to fostering business activity by creating and enhancing winter-season attractions in key business areas throughout the city, providing support for Calgary’s small businesses to serve customers online, and supporting Business Improvement Areas to create safe, welcoming spaces for in-person, physically distanced services.

The investment from Western Economic Diversification Canada will target three components:

    1. Calgary’s Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) to enable various communities within the city to support business attraction efforts like enhancing public spaces to create safe and appealing environments for visitors and businesses.
    2. Expansion of Calgary’s ShopHERE powered by Google initiative to enable small businesses to build online e-commerce storefronts and continue to sell goods and services both locally and beyond. Businesses can visit to register.
    3. Chinook Blast winter experience – a multi-weekend walk-through celebration showcasing local arts and culture to revitalize downtown Calgary, Feb. 13-28. Visit for more information.

Supporting Calgary’s small businesses during the pandemic has been a key focus for The City of Calgary, which includes advocating on behalf of the business community to the provincial and federal governments.

“Calgary has been through some tough times, but we are resilient and we have a lot of positive things going on in our city,” says Sonya Sharp, Leader, Business and Local Economy at The City of Calgary.

“This funding will give a much needed boost for BIAs and our local businesses, which are the backbone of our economy. Being able to expand ShopHERE powered by Google to help businesses pivot to e-commerce is also critical for existing and new businesses.”

The funding will also go a long way to support the inaugural Chinook Blast, which runs until Feb. 28. All in-person activities for the Chinook Blast are designed with Alberta Health Services protocols in mind, including areas that require masks, enforced physical distancing to help visitors (and others) stay safe.