ICI development across Halton during the 2nd quarter

Industrial, commercial and institutional (ICI) development activity across Halton declined 13 per cent during the second quarter of 2021 over the previous period. Between April and June, just over $100 million of building permit construction value was issued for ICI developments in Halton, down from $115 million in ICI construction value during the first quarter of 2021.  Much of the decline was attributable to a drop in industrial construction value, which fell from $54 million in the first quarter of 2021 to $31 million in the second quarter.  In comparison to the same period in 2020, however, ICI development was 22 per cent higher than last year, fuelled by a significant rise in industrial activity in 2021.

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E-commerce for Main Street Businesses – Part 1

The who, what, why, and how.

What is e-commerce In today’s economy?

Simply put, e-commerce or electronic commerce is the process of buying and selling goods or services over the internet. This online network allows for the flow of business without the traditional constraints of travel, distance and time. Nowadays, nearly every imaginable good or service can be accessed via e-commerce, ranking it as one of the most disruptive business technologies over the past decade.

When it comes to small businesses, it is becoming more and more vital, intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent physical business restrictions.

According to Statistics Canada, online sales have more than doubled since 2013, to over $305 billion in 2019 alone. Globally the trend is similar, as seen in the following chart that shows retail e-commerce growth projections for the next few years.

What Are the benefits Of e-commerce?

E-Commerce is extremely advantageous as it allows you peace of mind in conducting your business whenever and wherever you want. At the same time, it also is very useful in allowing you to reach a larger audience and target specific demographics within seconds, all managed with just a few clicks of your mouse.

Another key benefit to note, is the power of e-commerce in creating the ability for you as a business to connect with your customer base and retain them for future conversions.

Is e-commerce right for your business?

Not all e-commerce approaches are created equal. Your unique business needs and the industry you’re in will most likely dictate your need for e-commerce and the respective strategy and approach. For example, a small bakery may implement a simple e-commerce site for customers to pre-order tasty treats and schedule a time for curbside pickup, accepting payment either in person or online. However, a restaurant supplier company may use e-commerce as well, but rather then implement the typical online checkout, they might have a more account oriented focus, and sophisticated billing portals for large orders and invoicing.

The following are a few common e-commerce business models:

  • B2B (Business to Business)
  • B2C (Business to Consumer)
  • C2B (Consumer to Business)
  • Online Marketplaces (Consumer to Consumer)

Whatever business you are in, e-commerce can most likely benefit you. With low start-up costs and easy scalability, e-commerce is becoming increasing accessible. Feel Free to check out BDC’s free e-commerce toolkit for more advice and tools!

How to get started?

Just like any business investment, e-commerce requires proper planning and due-diligence. Think of your digital presence and specifically a potential e-commerce site as your digital storefront real estate, as that is exactly what it is – greatly impacting your brand and customer experience.

Once you are ready to take the plunge, follow these simple steps:

  1. Choose a product(s) or service(s) to sell
  2. Conduct market research to validate your idea
  3. Choose your sales channels
  4. Build your online store
  5. Launch
  6. Promote your business and provide customer support

Make sure to include e-commerce in your business plan and budgeting!

There is lots of useful online information, templates and guides to help you develop your e-commerce strategy and platform.

Need help? Reach out to the Halton Small Business Centre to speak to one of our consultants or attend one of our bootcamp seminars!  Visit www.halton.ca/smallbusiness to contact us and learn more.

Part 2:  Setting up your Digital Storefront coming soon!

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Data Insights – Halton’s Unemployment Rate Continues to Decrease in Q2 2021

On July 9, Statistics Canada released their Labour Force Survey data for Q2 2021. The data shows that Halton Region’s unemployment rate for the quarter was 8.1 per cent, representing a 0.3 percent point decrease since Q1, 2021. Similarly, Halton’s participation rate had increased by 1.3 percent points over Q1 2021 to 67.9 per cent, representing a return to pre-pandemic levels of Q4 2019. Halton’s labour market continues to be one of the strongest in the GTHA and is also outperforming provincial and federal rates.

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Data Insights – ICI Development across Halton during the 1st quarter of 2021

Industrial, commercial and institutional (ICI) development activity across Halton declined 47 Industrial, commercial and institutional (ICI) development activity across Halton declined 47 per cent during the first quarter of 2021 over the previous period. Between January and March, just over $88 million of building permit construction value was issued for ICI developments in Halton, down from $167 million in ICI construction value during the fourth quarter of 2020.  Much of the decline was attributable to a drop in industrial construction value, which fell from $84 million in the final quarter of 2020 to $20.1 million in the first quarter of 2021.

The images show charts and graphs that show quarterly development in Halton over the past 10 years, development value by municipality, development value per capita in Q1, 2021, and development value by land use.
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Data Insights – Halton’s labour market recovery slows with further lockdowns

On April 9, Statistics Canada released the Q1 2021 Labour Force Survey estimates, showing shrinkages in labour force throughout the country due to rising COVID-19 case counts and further public health restrictions. Halton’s unemployment rate saw an increase of 0.5 percent points to 8.4% in Q1 2021 over the previous quarter and its participation rate saw a decrease of 0.3 percent points to 66.7%.

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Happy Holidays from the Halton Small Business Centre

At the Halton Small Business Centre, our number one priority throughout 2020 has been to take care of our clients and help our community partners navigate these challenging times together.  The COVID-19 pandemic imposed unprecedented uncertainties and stress on our businesses, families and communities, and we want to thank our clients and partners for putting your trust in our team and allowing us to work with you.

While this year has been challenging, it was inspiring to work with aspiring and existing entrepreneurs throughout the year as part of our Summer Company and Starter Company Plus entrepreneurship programs.  We also had the opportunity to work with so many existing small businesses in Halton this year – your enthusiasm, passion and dedication was heartening.

As this challenging year comes to a close, we look forward to a hopeful 2021.  We’d like to say thank you to our local partners, stakeholders, community volunteers and mentors for your dedication and collaboration.

By working together, we will all get through this together!  

On behalf of the Halton Small Business Centre, we wish you all a healthy and prosperous 2021!

Sincerely,

The Halton Small Business Centre Team,

Stephanie Mazhari, Beata Walters, Navjot Chhinzer, Chris Janzen, Sabah Kazmi & Prince Khan

*Please note that our offices will be closed from December 24 to January 3, 2021.*

For more information about our upcoming 2021 seminar schedule, please visit www.halton.ca/smallbusiness.

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Halton Medical Officer of Health Instructs Retailers to Control Crowding

On Monday, December 21, Halton Region Medical Officer of Health issued additional instructions to owners and operators of shopping malls and retail stores in an effort to reduce crowding and limit the spread of COVID-19.

The Province of Ontario has issued regulations under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 (ROA) to implement its Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework.

The Regulations applicable to Halton Region require the person responsible for a business or organization that is open to operate the business or organization in compliance with the instructions of public health officials, including instructions on physical distancing.

The following instructions issued by Dr. Hamidah Meghani, Medical Officer of Health for Halton Region, are intended to supplement the Regulations, to require that all persons who own and/or operate one or more shopping malls and/or one or more retail stores in Halton Region manage and actively monitor capacity to maintain adequate physical distancing in shopping malls and retail stores.

These instructions go into effect at 12:00 pm noon on Monday, December 21, 2020.

RETAIL STORES, INCLUDING STORES LOCATED IN SHOPPING MALLS

All persons who own and/or operate a retail store, including a store located in a shopping mall must:

  1. Comply with all requirements that apply to your business, place, facility, or establishment as set out under the ROA and the applicable regulations, as well as the requirements set out in theses instructions. Where these instructions impose one or more additional requirements not set out in the ROA, the requirement(s) under these instructions must be followed.
  2. Immediately set a maximum capacity for patrons in the retail store that effectively supports maintaining a physical distance of at least two metres, actively monitor compliance with the said capacity limit, and ensure that physical distancing of at least two metres is maintained by patrons and store staff within the retail store and in all common areas, washrooms, hallways, entrances, etc., at all times and that all patrons, store staff and mall staff wear a mask or face covering in a manner that covers their mouth, nose and chin unless entitled to an exception from this requirement.
  3. Actively manage all line-ups or patrons congregating and ensure all patrons waiting in line-ups inside or outside the retail store maintain physical distancing of at least two
    metres and that all patrons, store staff and mall staff wear a mask or face covering in a manner that covers their mouth, nose and chin unless entitled to an exception from this requirement.
  4. Follow all further instructions from Halton Region Public Health pertaining to COVID-19 that apply to your retail store.

For more information, visit www.halton.ca/COVID19 or call 311. Read the News Release.



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The Making of a Successful Young Entrepreneur: Halton’s Summer Company Program

This post was written by guest blogger, Katelin Mowder – Summer Student, Halton Region Small Business Centre, 2020.

During my summer employment at Halton Region, I had the pleasure of assisting in administering the 2020 Summer Company program through the Halton Region Small Business Centre. This provincially-funded program provides hands-on experience and training to young entrepreneurs over the summer months. Summer Company focuses on encouraging, mentoring, and supporting young adults as they start and operate their own business.

While the COVID-19 pandemic brought unique and unprecedented challenges, it also provided an opportunity for new and innovative business ideas to flourish. This year’s participants brought resilience, creativity, and a passion for entrepreneurship to the program, and I am excited to see how their careers grow.

We saw a lot of growth in the students and their businesses over the summer – both in revenues and personal development. Students had the opportunity to establish strong connections and visibility in the Halton community, from forming relationships with new clients to features in the local news. Our bi-weekly training and mentoring sessions, delivered by Halton’s Small Business Centre staff and local business professionals, offered a safe environment for personal discovery and guidance, including virtual presentations on personality types and stress management.

In this unprecedented situation, the Summer Company program gave each student the opportunity to earn money and create their own brand and set their own goals. The program also provided the chance for students to learn the basics of entrepreneurship, how to start a business, and acquiring customers through a variety of marketing efforts.  This was a key target that was achieved by all participants.

A few of Halton’s Summer Company students at work! Ben Robinson – Harmony at Home, Stephanie Mazza – Steph’s Engagement & Tutoring (SSET Enterprises), Josh Ince – Sharp Edge Property Maintenance, David Michaud – Detailing Done Right (DDR), Mason Robinson – Swimming With Mason

The COVID-19 situation offered a unique learning opportunity and realistic perspective of industry struggles. The pandemic was an obvious first challenge to overcome, causing several students to restructure their business ideas to provide online or socially distanced solutions. These and other related challenges further emphasized the importance of patience, persistence, and time management. Businesses across Canada were compelled to rely on new technologies and social media to market and sell their products and services.  The students experienced the same challenges, but found success using various online platforms, social media groups, and referrals through word of mouth.

Overall, I had a great experience watching this group of students learn, grow, and work diligently over the last few months. I am so proud of each individual’s success!  As many participants will continue their small businesses over the coming months and into next summer, I look forward to seeing their strategies develop, their platforms grow, and their entrepreneurship skills flourish.

Please click here to visit the Halton Region Small Business Centre Summer Company site, and read more about the outstanding participants of the 2020 program!

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Halton Region Public Health: Reopening your Restaurant or Bar

Whether you have already reopened your restaurant or bar for outdoor dining, or are planning to reopen for dine-in service, there are resources available to support you to ensure the safety of your employees and guests during the COVID-19 pandemic.

What is open and what remains closed?

On July 24, 2020, Halton region will move from Stage 2 to Stage 3 of the Province’s reopening framework. Nearly all businesses and public spaces will be able to gradually reopen, with public health and workplace safety restrictions in place.

Stage 3 will allow for restaurants, bars, food courts, food trucks, concession stands and other food and drink establishments (e.g., wineries, breweries and distilleries or food service in a banquet facility) to open for dining in both indoor and outdoor areas, following public health and provincial guidance.

Buffet-style service is not yet permitted. Nightclubs may not yet open, except for the purposes of serving food or drinks to patrons in accordance with the conditions that apply to restaurants and bars.

Guidance for reopening your restaurant or bar

Operators are responsible for providing an environment that minimizes the risk of transmission of COVID-19. Establishments must take appropriate measures to ensure physical distancing of at least two metres between patrons from different social circles. To do so:

  • implement a reservation system to avoid lines of waiting customers;
  • limit the number of patrons allowed in the indoor/outdoor space at one time;
  • ensure that tables are configured such that patrons seated at different tables are separated by a distance of at least two metres, or are separated by plexiglass or another impermeable barrier; and
  • use ground markings (floor decals or tape markings) to encourage physical distancing between customers in areas where customers gather.

In addition, a mandatory mask by-law took effect in Halton Region on July 22, 2020. The by-law requires the use of non-medical masks or face coverings in certain indoor public spaces.  Customers are required to wear non-medical masks or face coverings while dining indoors, except while eating, unless they are exempt. Employees must also wear a non-medical mask or face covering unless they are:

  • exempt under the Regional by-law;
  • working in an area designated for them (not accessible to the public); or
  • working within or behind a physical barrier.

The by-law requires operators to develop a mask policy. Learn more about Regional By-law 47-20 here.

Resources to support you as you plan to reopen

Halton Region Public Health has developed a fact sheet to support restaurants, bars and other food and drink establishments with reopening for dining during Stage 3 of reopening.

In addition, there are a number of other guidance documents and resources available:

Please note there is no requirement for restaurants that were operating prior to the pandemic to be inspected by Halton Region Public Health prior to reopening. However, new restaurants must contact Public Health before opening to arrange for an inspection.

Download and print posters for your food premise


Questions?

For more information and updates on COVID-19, please visit halton.ca/COVID-19

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Workplace Mental Health During COVID-19

mental-health-2019924_1920As we continue to face the challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, supporting your mental health and the mental health of your employees is more important than ever. Many of us are concerned about our physical health and being unable to work if we contract COVID-19. The additional stress, anxiety and uncertainty that we are currently experiencing can have an impact on our mental health and our ability to work effectively. A number of resources have been developed to support workplace mental health during this unprecedented time.

The Mental Health Commission of Canada has developed the following resources to help employers support the mental health and well-being of their employees:

Ottawa Public Health has developed an employer’s guide to support employee mental health:

Halton Region mental health webpage has included some helpful resources including:

As employers, it is important to acknowledge the impact that the pandemic may be having on employee mental health and encourage employees to reach out for support if they need it through:

  • Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP)
  • Family Doctor
  • Distress Centre
  • Other local supports listed on halton.ca
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