Driving to an Ontario staycation this weekend, I listened as CBC radio reported how a recent survey has one in five Ontario tourism-related businesses saying they will close as a result of COVID-19.

One in five. Twenty per cent. And that was the businesses that honestly admitted they would likely have to fall on their swords before all of this is finished. Not to be a cynic, but surely some of those other four out of five, or 80 per cent, aren’t going to make it either, despite their rose-coloured glasses.

The survey was tourist-related. We are not sure how operators of other businesses feel in Ontario, or closer to home in Haliburton County.

And for that very reason, we encourage business owners to attend the last of the workshops being presented by TechnicalitiesPlus – for their ShopCloseBuy e-commerce platform they hope to launch in late September.

It is basically a central, online, source for local shopping. So, rather than sending our money outside of our towns, let’s find a means to have people shop local and keep the money here.

The local web developer has created the platform in the hopes of providing a made-in-Haliburton County alternative to national and international online shopping conglomerates such as Amazon. Businesses and organizations will be able to sell goods and hold online auctions. For now, it will allow them to handle pre-orders and curbside pickup. Mail order is still in the works. It was explained that it’s Kijiji-like, quite simple to get products up and visible. The County is helping with social media promotion.

They’ve already held two sessions, on Sept. 3 and 9. The next is Sept. 15.

For those who may be concerned this is a private business looking to profit at the hands of small businesses, you should know that TechnicalitiesPlus has talked to the County of Haliburton, the Haliburton County Development Corporation, the Haliburton BIA and the Arts Council Haliburton Highlands about their idea.

Yes, there is a cost. You will have to shell out $235 to get set up and then $40 a month. There is also a 2.9 per cent transaction fee. But SIRCH and HCDC are offering a subsidy to cover costs for 20 businesses.

In Haliburton, TechnicalitiesPlus hopes to cover its costs. If it takes off like they think it could, they will put on their marketing hat and hit up other communities at profit.

How many of us, over the course of this pandemic, have turned to Amazon or another online shopping platform simply because we did not have to leave the comfort of our home, and it was a simple click to get an item to our doorstep?

We encourage local businesses to make the investment in ShopCloseBuy so we can at least have an alternative in the hopes of keeping our paycheques or CERB payments here at home. One or two purchases could pay off that $235 very quickly and one purchase could cover the additional monthly cost. Spend the money, overcome your fear of technology, and give your business a fighting chance.

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