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Grand Erie Business Centre continues to support local businesses during a challenging year

Grand Erie Business Centre Supports Local Businesses

Businesses in Haldimand County and the Township of West Lincoln benefit from funding through the Government of Canada’s Regional Relief and Recovery Fund and the support of Grand Erie Business Centre.

CAYUGA, ONTARIO – March 31, 2021                                                      

Small businesses are at the heart of our economy and many are vital to this community and are facing uncertainty as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Since May 2020, $436.4 million has been made available under the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) to southern Ontario businesses, through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), including $83.3 million in targeted rural support delivered by Community Futures Development Corporations (CFDCs).

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic hit us all very hard, including the Haldimand County and The Township of West Lincoln business community. Many businesses were unable to operate for months, which caused sales to drop sharply or even come to a complete stop.  Even businesses with detailed business plans and excellent track records of success were operating blindly and in an environment of uncertainty. Many of these businesses were forced to alter their operations, as did the Grand Erie Business Centre.

After 30 years of support to the local business community in-person and on-site, Grand Erie Business Centre pivoted to operating remotely.  Administration fees were shelved, payments were postponed, and the focus shifted from using the community loan fund to the Government of Canada’s Regional Relief and Recovery Fund.

From May 2020, when the RRRF was announced, until March 22, 2021 Grand Erie Business Centre was able to support 59 businesses with over $2.7 million in loans.  This support allowed 152 jobs to be maintained throughout Haldimand County and the Township of West Lincoln. These loans are providing financial contributions (interest-free loans) to help support fixed operating costs of SMEs, where business revenues have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We launched the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund at a time when the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic was sky-high. We knew that Community Futures Development Corporations were in a unique position to help deliver this fund using their local expertise,” says the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for FedDev Ontario.  “Now, we are seeing the targeted results of that support, thanks to the regional development agencies and CFDCs supporting rural businesses and entrepreneurs to be resilient in the future.”

Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan has helped to protect millions of jobs, provide emergency support to families and keep businesses afloat as they deal with the impact of COVID-19. This is a central part of the RRRF, which helps support those who may not be eligible for other programs.

One of the businesses supported by Grand Erie Business Centre was Progressive Music Studio.  Prior to the pandemic, the company was offering in-person music lessons at its studio in Cayuga.  COVID-19 forced the company to shut its doors and it was unable to generate any revenue.  With the support of the RRRF, Progressive Music Studio invested in technology that allowed it to offer music lessons online.  This included an online booking portal.  Since implementing this technology, Progressive Music Studio has seen a decrease in cancelled lessons and is able to operate both in-person and virtually.

Grand Erie Business Centre was also able to disburse over $1 million to 12 businesses from its Community Loan Fund, which created or maintained an additional 46 jobs. 

GermaFog, a new start-up created in response to the pandemic, operates in Dunnville and provides disinfecting services.  Seeing an opportunity in June 2020 after the pandemic had begun, owner, Shelley Munnings, moved quickly to get her business up-and-running.  She came to Grand Erie Business Centre looking for ways to finance the electrostatic sprayers needed in her business.  GEBC was able to support GermaFog through the Community Loan Fund, which allowed Shelley to approach larger facilities, provide a higher-end service, reduce costs, and increase profit margins. 

“The businesses, workers and organizations in southern Ontario’s rural communities are a significant part of our region’s economic strength,” says Marie-France Lalonde, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages (FedDev Ontario and Official Languages).  “We know they have faced challenges as a result of the pandemic, and it is reassuring to see that the local support that our CFDCs have delivered through the RRRF is making a difference for many of them.”

Grand Erie Business Centre has been assisting businesses for more than 30 years and is pleased to have been able to support local businesses through this unprecedented time.

Additional Quotes

“The last 12 months has created unprecedented challenges for the businesses of Haldimand County and the Township West Lincoln as they deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.  This has not only impacted all of our existing clients, but also the broader business community.  Being chosen by the federal government to deliver the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund, Grand Erie Business Centre has been able to support 59 businesses with over $2.7 million in needed relief funding while also distributing another $1 million in loans through the Community Futures Program.  Our staff and volunteer Board were up for the challenge this year and will continue to support our local businesses through the recovery ahead.” 

Stephen Ecker – Chairman, Grand Erie Business Centre

“The challenges that our local small businesses have faced in the past year through this pandemic is truly unprecedented. It is only through the assistance of organizations like Grand Erie Business Centre who are able to leverage vital and much needed dollars to help these businesses survive and ultimately achieve their business dreams.  As Mayor of Haldimand County, I am proud of the partnership we have with GEBC and I cannot thank them enough for being able to fill a much-needed gap in support that we as a municipality cannot fulfill.” 

Ken Hewitt – Mayor, Haldimand County

“I understand that Grand Erie Business Centre was able to provide some funding support through the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund as well as their Community Loan Fund to a number of businesses in West Lincoln over the past year. In trying times like this, it’s nice to know that Grand Erie Business Centre is thoughtfully looking out for our local West Lincoln business community.” 

David Bylsma – Mayor, Township of West Lincoln

“2020 was a year of change including the co-location of Grand Erie Business Centre adjacent to the Economic Development and Tourism division in the new Haldimand County Administration Building. While partners for many years, both organizations look forward to the new synergies that this co-location will bring to our business community. 

In 2020, Grand Erie Business Centre and Haldimand’s Economic Development and Tourism division successfully partnered on the implementation of the Digital Main Street program in our community.  Through the Digital Main Street grant, four students were hired as the Digital Service Squad and provided one on one support to assist businesses throughout the County enhancing their digital and online presence.  As a partner, Grand Erie Business Centre was able to provide valuable in-kind administration support to ensure the success of the program. This program has had a tremendous impact to our community and 82 businesses were successful in receiving a Digital Transformation Grant which equaled over $200,000 back to these businesses at a time that really mattered. Through the partnership with Grand Erie Business Centre, we continue to refer businesses between our two organizations and ensure businesses have the information and resources needed to be successful.” 

Lidy Romanuk – Manager Economic Development & Tourism, Haldimand County

Quick Facts

  • CFDCs deliver a wide variety of programs and services to support community economic development and small business growth. They employ local staff and are each governed by a volunteer board of directors, made up of local residents representing the community.
  • Through RRRF, Grand Erie Business Centre provided more than $2.7 million in liquidity support to help 59 local businesses impacted by the pandemic to cover fixed operating costs and maintained 152 jobs.

Associated Links


Grand Erie Business Centre Media Relations Contact

Tauri Caputo – General Manager