Digital Service Squad program aiming to give small businesses online boost

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The City of Calgary announces the Digital Service Squad program to provide free support helping small businesses succeed in the online world.

The Digital Service Squad (DSS) consists of up to 15 Calgary post-secondary students, temporarily hired by The City and available at no cost to eligible small businesses.

The pandemic, and the ways in which people are living, working, and shopping online, make it more important than ever for local small businesses to have a strong and ongoing digital presence.

The program launches today and will continue for one year. It is anticipated the program will assist well over 2000 eligible businesses.

Post-secondary students with digital expertise will provide 1-on-1 support to eligible small businesses. The students include those in the first year through to last year of their studies.

The free support can include digital transformation support; social media strategy; building a basic website; setting up Google My Business; setting up a Point-of-Sale (POS) solution; Search Engine Optimization (SEO); creating customer databases; and streamlining business processes.

Eligible businesses:

  • Small businesses located in Calgary and registered in Alberta.
  • Zero to 49 employees (can include self-employed business owners with no employees).
  • Home-based or commercial businesses.

Ineligible businesses:

  • Non-profits, charitable trusts, and franchises are not eligible under this program.

“This is a great initiative that partners talented students who need experience, with businesses who need help to increase their digital presence,” says Erin Chrusch, Acting Lead, Business and Local Economy. “Our Digital Service Squad members will work 1-on-1 with as many small business operators as possible to establish their online presence, improve their digital literacy, and connect them with ongoing support.”

For local small business operators, it all starts with signing up. Details can be found on the newly-created Digital Service Squad webpage. Interested small business operators are encouraged to register as soon as possible.

“We want to inspire and enable small businesses in Calgary to embrace digital technology to be successful in the new economy,” says Chrusch.

The program is delivered through a partnership between Business Link and Digital Main Street and is funded by the Government of Alberta.