Funding allows Brock students to assist Niagara businesses impacted by COVID-19

Funding from the Government of Canada through the Canada Summer Jobs program has allowed Brock University to hire 19 students who will help Niagara businesses in their recovery from COVID-19.

With the funding, Brock is partnering with Niagara’s chambers of commerce to provide assistance at a key moment in the economic recovery of the region.

The students will be employed by the University but will work in conjunction with the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce and the South Niagara Chambers of Commerce on a variety of projects as requested by local businesses. They’ll also work in conjunction with the Niagara Region and the Small Business Enterprise Centres.

In light of the pandemic, many Niagara businesses have had to completely rethink their operations, such as moving to an online sales platform for the first time.

Lynn Wells, Brock University Vice-President, Academic, said the program is another example of the University’s commitment to experiential education.

“These types of partnerships provide our students with an unparalleled on-the-job learning experience, while at the same time allowing us to help our Niagara community,” she said. “Thanks to this government funding, Brock is able to ensure local needs are being met while providing employment to 19 students at a challenging time for them.”

The Brock students come from a number of different Faculties and Departments, allowing businesses to access a wide variety of expertise such as business, computer programming and communications.

“We are very excited about this particular partnership with Brock University because it is putting actual resources into those businesses that most need it,” said Dolores Fabiano, Executive Director, South Niagara Chambers of Commerce. “We need to do everything we can right now to ensure the longevity of some of our most loved local businesses. Access to students who have knowledge and a certain skills set will go a long way in achieving this goal.”

The students have been hired to work throughout the Fall Term and the project timelines will vary. Along the way, they’ll also receive training and development and will receive mentorship from the Niagara chambers, the Region, the Small Business Enterprise Centres and Brock University’s Co-op, Career and Experiential Education department, which is overseeing their roles.

Mishka Balsom, CEO, Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce, said the Canada Summer Jobs program has never been more important to businesses or students.

“In the current economic downturn, businesses need all the help they can get, and access to Brock student talent will be a substantial help,” she said. “We also hope that the students who participate will be able to get a head start for their careers during what will be a difficult time to be a jobseeker.”

In Niagara Falls, where 14 students will be working, the expertise will be put to use assisting a variety of small businesses.

“This year, faced with the challenges and economic impacts brought about by COVID-19, the Canada Summer Jobs program provides needed assistance and a degree of certainty and stability for many,” said Tony Baldinelli, Member of Parliament for Niagara Falls. “I am pleased to support the bright futures of many students through this program, while also supporting the economic vitality of our small business and not-for-profit sectors, especially in the face of this global pandemic.”

There will also be three students focused on Niagara centre businesses and two on St. Catharines.

“I am pleased that we were able to bring funding to Brock students under the Canada Summer Jobs Program,” said Vance Badawey, Member of Parliament for Niagara Centre. “This funding will provide local students with meaningful employment this Fall Term, while contributing to the economic recovery of Niagara.”

Chris Bittle, Member of Parliament for St. Catharines, said we’re in a unique moment in history.

“Students are graduating in an unprecedented time and local businesses are experiencing challenges unlike any other in recent history,” Bittle said. “Students employed at Brock University through the Canada Summer Jobs Program are not only gaining important skills in this new environment, they are also helping local businesses adapt to a post-COVID reality.”

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