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‘Support local’: Ajax, Ont., launches coronavirus business response plan

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WATCH: Ajax has launched a new initiative in an attempt to help local businesses. The plan does not include direct funding, but it aims to help provide a support system. Aaron Streck has more. – Jul 28, 2020

Ajax has launched a new initiative in an attempt to help local businesses.

On Tuesday, council launched its 20/20 Focus: COVID-19 Business Recovery & Growth Plan, which does not include direct funding but aims to help provide a support system for businesses.

“It’s important to attract business but one of the most important things we can do is support our local businesses,” said Ajax Mayor Shaun Collier.

Feroz Omar is grateful to be getting his hands doughy. The 25-year-old just opened Maestro’s Gourmet Pizza & Gelato in Pat Bayly Square last month, 60 days later than he planned.

“I expected it to be busy, two schools right in front of me — students, they’re just going to swarm this place. I have the biggest slices, cheapest lunch in the area, I think I would have been really busy,” said Omar, Maestro’s CEO.

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While business hasn’t been slow, Omar says he gets between 50 and 60 customers a day — a far cry from the 150 he was projecting.

Read more: Durham municipalities not rushing Phase 3 reopening

The town of Ajax says it’s doing what it can to help Omar and other Ajax business owners.

Collier says the town doesn’t have cash to give out, so it looked at other innovative ways to help.

That includes online resources, fast-tracking patio permits and relaxed mobile signage rules.

“The best thing we can do is encourage them. We’ve had our shop local program, we’ve had our takeout program every Wednesday, we’ve been doing everything we can,” said Collier. “We created a business registry on our town website so people know about our local businesses they know what’s open, they know what’s accessible.”

Read more: New Ontario drivers told to ‘show up ready’ as driving schools given green light to reopen

Tammy Miller, who runs Country Cheese Company, has been in operation for almost eight years and as a niche store owner, she welcomes the town’s efforts to help.

“We were able to, within a couple days, pivot our business from storefront to completely online sales and that’s what has kept us alive,” said Miller.

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As for Omar, he’s hopeful that the combination of entering Stage 3 and the town’s assistance will help his business begin to excel.

“I’ll take advantage the most I can because I have to make ends meet right,” said Omar.

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