Keeping GTA businesses open during the pandemic

As the COVID-19 pandemic forced the world into quarantine, thousands of small local brick-and-mortar retailers were faced with the prospect of financial collapse and closure. With no online shopping or e-commerce presence, many struggled to keep their businesses afloat.

The City of Toronto and the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA) had a plan to support local retailers by connecting them with some of the world’s leading tech companies and York University’s Schulich School of Business. By bringing together the digital know-how of industry leaders and the Marketing expertise of Schulich, we launched the Digital Main Street ShopHERE Initiative. This Initiative was established to help brick-and-mortar businesses across the GTA rapidly transition to support online sales. 

For this initiative, 100 students from Schulich’s MBA, Specialized Masters’, and undergraduate programs worked with e-commerce firms like Shopify, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, eBay, and Mastercard. These partnerships were a great success and helped thousands of businesses create an online presence practically overnight and at no cost. 

We are proud to have helped Toronto’s small retailers adapt to the online market, giving them a lifeline to generate revenue when they needed it most, as well as a new platform for future growth. We also provided Schulich students invaluable hands-on experience by working under intense deadlines to help real businesses implement innovative e-commerce platforms and marketing strategies. 

Schulich School of Business was recently ranked as one of the top schools in the world in the field of Marketing. The Digital Main Street Initiative became another example of how York University and Schulich are utilizing real-world experiential learning and cutting-edge digital expertise to empower the business leaders of tomorrow.

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