The Ontario government is providing more than $1.8 million to help 109 Sault Ste. Marie businesses adapt to COVID-19 public health guidelines and protect employees and customers. The funding is being delivered by the Northern Ontario Recovery Program (NORP) and will support the purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE), installation of safety equipment, renovations, and new construction.
“We appreciate how hard COVID-19 has hit businesses in our community and we are incredibly proud of how resilient and resourceful they have all been through this extremely challenging time,” said Ross Romano, Minister of Government and Consumer Services and MPP for Sault Ste. Marie. “This funding is exclusive to northern Ontario business owners because we understand that they have had to make difficult decisions, impacting their own families and the families of so many of their employees. While this funding will not cover all of the loss, I believe it has helped a lot of people.”
Examples of funding include the following:
- $25,000 for Marconi Cultural Event Centre to convert its buffet-style restaurant into a pod-style dining room with partitions, spaced seating and floor markings.
- $24,300 for The Loplop Lounge to renovate and purchase equipment to expand its takeout operations, and develop its website to accommodate online orders.
$19,094 for KUMON Sault Ste. Marie to install a new furnace and air conditioning system to improve quality of airflow, and purchase computer equipment to transition from a classroom setting to online learning.
- NORP was established as a short-term program to help businesses across northern Ontario adjust to the impacts of COVID-19. Applications were accepted until November 20, 2020, and a total of 1384 businesses received funding. A running list of NORP funding recipients is available on the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC) website.
“The Loplop Lounge has been a prominent venue in the music and art community for the past 18 years. When COVID-19 hit, we were unsure what recovery would look like for a licenced live music venue. Truly, at the time, we had no idea how long the recovery process would even take. Thanks to the Northern Ontario Recovery Program, we were able to pivot our social based business to a digitized format. Further, we were able to make modifications to our brick and mortar venue to accommodate the new reality of face to face service. With the generous support of NORP funding, we were able to transition our business, through a very volatile time, into a bright new future. We look forward to welcoming our patrons back when the time comes, but in the meantime, we thank the Ontario government for helping to steer us through this unconventional time.” Stephen Alexander, Owner and Operator, The Loplop Lounge
On February 11, 2021, the Ontario government launched new and improved NOHFC programs that support more projects in rural northern communities and make it easier for more people and businesses to apply. The programs target existing and emerging markets, provide more work opportunities for Indigenous people and address the skilled labour shortage in the North.