Story by Jessica Williamson
Want a new game that will amuse and maybe embarrass your friends and family? Ask them to share their weekly screen time.
For many, the numbers are a little shocking. While we have carefully tracked our children’s screen time for more than a decade, technology companies, such as Apple, have recently started notifying us adults that we stare at our phones much more than we realize.
Screen time has become a means to stay connected and informed, increasing drastically during COVID-19. We now habitually check the web before venturing out – confirming whether our favourite restaurant is open, what public health restrictions are in place and if items we want to buy are available for curbside pickup or delivery.
On the other end of what we view on our screens are thousands of businesses. They are making the digital experience possible through updates to their websites and Google listings, posting to social media about the latest and greatest products and services and modifying the shopping experience with online booking and e-commerce stores.
What has changed for businesses in the age of ‘smartphone life’ and COVID-19? Well … everything!
It’s why the Government of Alberta recently announced a $10,000,000 investment, over two years, to help small businesses across Alberta adapt to the new realities of the digital economy. This new provincially funded program is based off a proven model that has supported more than 40,000 businesses across Canada in the last five years.
The Digital Economy Program consists of two initiatives that provide small businesses with free support and easy-to-use tools to grow and manage their online presence.
The first part of the program, ShopHERE powered by Google, helps small businesses create and operate an online store and offers advice for marketing their products and services. This first initiative is managed by Business Link, an Alberta non-profit with a mandate to support small businesses.
The second part of the program, the Digital Service Squad, is available locally. Small businesses in Airdrie, those with less than 50 employees, can apply to receive free one-on-one technical support to set up digital technologies ranging from websites to Google business profiles, social media, e-commerce, onboarding to airdrie.chambermarket.ca and more.
Digital Service Squad members are equipped with education and experience in digital marketing and are ready to help local small businesses ‘get digital’ to meet consumers’ needs for information, experiences, connection and online commerce. This second initiative is managed by Community Futures Centre West and will support several communities in our region, including Airdrie, Crossfield, Rocky View County, Cochrane, Canmore and Kananaskis.
Airdrie, watch for improved online experiences coming soon to a (mobile) screen near you.
To learn more about the Digital Economy Program, check the eligibility of your business and get started; visit mydigitalbusiness.ca
Jessica Williamson is an economic development officer with the City of Airdrie