Digital Service Squad gives an online boost to Calgary’s small businesses

It was during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in November 2020 when Judy Matheson decided to launch her small business - Local Love Gifting Co.  During a time that was challenging for our city, Matheson was aiming to support local businesses and spread much needed joy around Calgary.CAI - Support Local Campaign-47

Local Love Gifting Co. specializes in custom gift boxes and baskets packed full of products from local artisans. Since day one, Matheson has been passionate about supporting local businesses through gifting and spreading joy with thoughtful and memorable gifts for personal and corporate clients.

As a small business owner, Matheson jumped at the opportunity to apply for The City of Calgary’s Digital Service Squad (DSS) program which helps small businesses get online, digitize and monetize, for free.  

“As a new business, hiring and recruiting staff to help with my website and online presence was not an option,” said Matheson. “I was on my own and seeing that the Digital Service Squad was free to small businesses, I figured why not try it out and see what I can learn.”

Provided in partnership with Business Link and Digital Main Street and funded by the province, the Digital Service Squad is made up of 14 post-secondary students from Calgary hired by The City to provide this service. To date, The City has engaged with 2,300 small businesses who registered for Digital Service Squad support, with many more businesses signed up to receive free digital support through the program.  

“The Service Squad is a great program that partners talented students who need experience with small businesses to provide one-on-one assistance to help establish or improve their digital presence,” says Erin Chrusch, leader of Business & Local Economy at The City of Calgary. “It’s just one of the initiatives The City offers to help support businesses in Calgary to help them grow and flourish here.”

Matheson was paired with a member from the Digital Service Squad, who helped provide a much-needed makeover to her business webpage.

“I chose to apply for Digital Service Squad in hopes of growing my business and to learn some tools in website building, social media, online advertising and product launching,” says Matheson. “I had little experience in these areas and was trying to learn it on my own. I’m extremely grateful for the Digital Service Squad.  It’s been a joy brainstorming together and having a cheerleader and teacher by my side.”

As for the future, Matheson says she looks forward to continuing to improve her website with the tools she’s learned. “I would absolutely recommend the Digital Service Squad to other small businesses who are looking to learn and improve the many aspects that go into running a small business."

For more information about the Digital Service Squad, visit