Supporting Windsor-Essex small businesses


Over $4.6 million in grants awarded to help local businesses create jobs and economic growth

Windsor-Essex, ON – Mayor Drew Dilkens welcomed the Honourable Nina Tangri, Ontario Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction; and Sabrina DeMarco, Executive Director, Small Business & Entrepreneurship Centre – Invest WindsorEssex, to highlight the hard-working small businesses of Windsor-Essex who have persevered and innovated to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the current fiscal year, the City of Windsor has awarded about $3.97 million to small and medium-sized businesses through a variety of Community Improvement Plan (CIP) funds. The CIP programs help offset the cost of facility upgrades, renovations and modern accessibility needs within defined boundaries, as set by council, and are paid out over time. Additionally, the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Centre (SBEC) has awarded over $632,000 in program funding to Windsor-Essex job creators from January 2020 to October 2021.   

The Small Business & Entrepreneurship Centre (SBEC) oversees the regional administration of provincial dollars to benefit local small businesses. Business owners can apply for many different grants throughout the year, but five programs played a vital role in the region’s pandemic response:

  • Starter Company PLUS program (Jumpstart Recovery Program) was awarded to 26 local businesses and offered a grant of up to $5,000, as well as access to training, mentoring, networking and one-on-one consulting support through the SBEC.
  • Digital Main Street focuses on assisting brick-and-mortar small businesses with technology adoption and a shift to online operations. The program granted $2,500 to 136 local businesses, as well as training and advisory support to brick-and-mortar small businesses looking to increase their capacity through digital transformation.
  • Summer Company Program helped 19 students start a summer business and gain valuable experience, entrepreneurial training, mentorship and grants of up to $3,000 to run a new, full-time business over the summer.
  • Foodpreneur Advantage offers a monthly series of introductory seminars and training opportunities to support entrepreneurs looking to get a start in the industry. Foodpreneur Advantage Scale-Up is a 10-week training program for food and beverage manufacturing businesses with a high potential to scale operations. Participants are also eligible to receive a Starter Company PLUS grant of up to $5,000.
  • RE3: Rebuild, Reopen, Revive program provided 20 small and medium-sized businesses in Windsor-Essex with contributions of up to $5,000 each to help them pivot and sustain their operations, mid-pandemic.

The City of Windsor responded to the challenges of COVID-19 and released its Small Business Action Plan in response to the public health crisis. The supports included waiving fees for outdoor dining spaces and providing free rentals at Lanspeary Park for a food hall as well as allowing business improvements areas (BIAs) to apply for temporary road closures for pedestrian events.


“Starting a small business at any time is a tricky endeavour, full of hard work and challenge. Starting a small business during a global pandemic, when supply chains were stretched and the public was advised to stay at home, was an even greater risk. The success shown by Windsor’s local entrepreneurs is a testament to the grit and determination of all of our region’s small businesses. I want to thank Minister Tangri for being a champion for this sector, and Sabrina DeMarco of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Centre for the support and mentorship that have allowed many local businesses to grow and create jobs.”

– Drew Dilkens, Mayor of the City of Windsor

“Ontario is committed to supporting the small and ‘Main Street’ businesses that are central to our economy and way of life. Our support for Digital Main Street is helping thousands of small businesses to expand their digital presence, market their services online, and revitalize their operations with high-tech tools and training. This is why we’re investing an additional $40 million into the program to continue to help small businesses across the province adapt to the pandemic – and thrive beyond it.”

– Hon. Nina Tangri, Ontario Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction

“In many ways, our neighbourhoods and BIAs are experiencing a revival and renewal like never before. Much of that success is driven by the risk takers and entrepreneurs who form our healthy small business community. The community here at Ford City is certainly leading the way and showcasing tremendous innovation, community spirit and business successes.”

– Ed Sleiman, Ward 5 City Councillor

“Although Ford City has been seeing positive growth over the past few years, we have seen a major shift in the past 18 months with the addition of 10 new unique businesses within our BIA. Some of these businesses have been located in newly renovated buildings, which we can attribute to the Ford City CIP, which launched a few years ago, that appealed to developers and building owners. This progress will continue through 2022 as more building and façade renovations are completed, creating new available spaces for lease.”

– Shane Potvin, Ford City BIA Chair

“The past 18 months have presented challenges never seen before. My team and I are inspired by the countless number of small businesses in Windsor-Essex who have persevered during these extraordinary times and have worked tirelessly to leverage available supports and innovate to meet their customers’ needs. In spite of the pandemic, we have worked with an encouraging number of new businesses and seen existing clients grow their operations. Their passion and confidence continue to be important drivers for economic revitalization in our communities.”

– Sabrina DeMarco, Executive Director, Small Business & Entrepreneurship Centre – Invest WindsorEssex