Welcome back to our Weekly Digest. Read on for the latest updates and some ideas to help us all move forward.
What You Need to Know About Canada’s Border Reopening
Canada has opened its border to vaccinated US citizens for non-essential travel on Monday, 9 August. For US citizens planning to cross the border, the following are required:
Proof of vaccination (Pfizer, Moderna, Astra-Zeneca, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines)
A recent negative molecular COVID-19 test submitted through the ArriveCAN app
Fully vaccinated travelers will not need to take a post-arrival test unless they have been randomly selected to complete a day 1 COVID-19 molecular test at no cost.
Meanwhile, the US will not allow Canadians to drive into the US for another two weeks, until 21 August. However, those in Canada can still fly to the US with proof of a negative test result.
New Moderna Plant Opening in Canada
Moderna will build an mRNA vaccine manufacturing plant in Canada within the next two years, as the company signed a memorandum of understanding with the federal government that will result in Canada hosting the drug maker’s first foreign operation.
It’s not clear how much money Canada has offered Moderna for the project, but this agreement will see Canada gain access to Moderna’s mRNA “development engine” and get priority access to the doses. Also, it will include a research and development component for a host of other conditions besides COVID-19, including the flu, heart disease, cancer and rare genetic disorders.
Government Support for Projects Under Supporting Black Canadian Communities Initiative
The government highlighted investments of up to $96 million through the Supporting Black Canadian Communities Initiative, including $82 million to support approximately 1,300 projects. These projects were intended to improve Black-led organizations’ workplaces and community spaces over two years.
The government will also provide funding of about $14 million to the intermediaries to help firms build the necessary infrastructure they need to better serve Black Canadian communities.
Government Extends Pandemic Recovery Programs and Business Support
The government extends a number of pandemic economic support including the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) and the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS).
The eligibility period for CRB, CEWS, Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS), Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB), and Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) will be extended to 23 October.
The amount of support available to employers under both the CEWS and CERS programs will also be increased for the period of 29 August to 25 September. CRB can pay out between $300 to $500 per week to recipients, depending on when they applied. The number of weeks claimants can receive the CRB will be increased to 54 weeks from the previous 50.
Get in touch with us if you have any questions.
Skilled Trades Training
The government of Canada announced funding of nearly $890,000 for the College of Carpenters and Allied Trades in order to support the implementation of online learning. This investment is intended to help develop a highly qualified skilled trades workforce, and prepare Canadians to fill available jobs as our economy restarts.
Alberta Expands Financial Support Program to SMEs
Alberta is expanding its Small and Medium Enterprise Relaunch Grant to include another payment of up to $10,000 for eligible businesses. This marks the third time the $10,000 payment has been made available to Alberta organizations. It will also be available to businesses that started operating between 1 March 2020 and 31 March 2021.
The Small and Medium Enterprise Relaunch Grant offers financial assistance to Alberta businesses that experienced at least a 30% decline in revenue because they were ordered to shut down or limit operations due to COVID-19.
HASCAP Loan Applications Now Open
Loan applications from the Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program (HASCAP) opened February 1.
Loans start at between $25,000 and $1 million for a single business depending on the size of the operation, and run up to $6.25 million for companies with multiple locations like a chain of hotels or restaurants. Interest rates are set at 4% across the board, terms will be up to 10 years, with up to a 12-month postponement of principal payments at the start of the loan.
To be eligible, companies will have to show a year-over-year revenue drop of at least 50% over three months, not necessarily consecutive, in the eight months before the application.
Further details can be found here.
5 Ways to Encourage Word of Mouth for Your Small Business
In a global study by Nielsen, 92% of people trust recommendations from family and friends, while 88% of people trust online customer reviews even if they’re from strangers. For many small businesses, word of mouth is the foundational layer of their marketing strategy. This Forbes article discusses different ways to encourage word of mouth from your customers.
- Nurture a relationship with your first customers.
Nurture a personal relationship with your early adopters– this will make them feel much more invested in your products or services. If they feel their feedback and opinions are valued, they will be more likely to share their experience. Although you can’t personally talk to each customer as you grow, doing this will create the first wave of brand advocates.
- Establish a referral program to offer an incentive.
A referral program can be the most effective way to convert happy but passive customers into active promoters.
- User-generated content.
This is a powerful tactic as people are more likely to share something they personally created. For example, you could run contests rewarding customers who have the best pictures with your product.
- Encourage user reviews and be responsive.
Encourage customers to leave reviews and actively engage in each one, especially during the early stages of your business. If there are criticisms, addressing them properly can also add credibility to your company.
- Use influencer marketing.
People with a loyal following that has an overlap with your target market can help you grow your brand’s presence. Many small businesses won’t have a huge promotional budget, so micro-influencers may give you the most bang for your buck.
Always keep in mind that in order to successfully turn your customers into promoters, you need to deliver products and services that truly add value to people’s lives. If you’re looking for specific tips on how to grow your small business, book a consultation with our advisors today.
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Contact us if you have any questions or want to discuss the next steps for your business.