Small businesses need city help to recover from pandemic downturn, store owner says

Toronto's next mayor urged to help keep businesses afloat

Karen McNeilly of Kiss the Frog
Kiss the Frog owner Karen McNeilly calls on the next Toronto mayor to help businesses like her own. (Deerick Tablon/Toronto Observer) 

An East York store owner is asking Toronto’s next mayor to provide more economic support for small businesses.

Stores have not been able to bounce back after the pandemic and need help from the city, says Karen McNeilly, owner of Kiss the Frog on Pape Avenue.

“A lot of businesses have been closing down,” McNeilly says. “They’re not gonna survive.”

Over six years, McNeilly has turned Kiss the Frog into a popular place to buy paints, custom jewellery, pottery and much more, customers say.

“She is a veritable treasure chest of decorating ideas,” says Gregory Scheske, a local guide for Google Maps. With a 4.7 rating from 27 reviews, Kiss the Frog has similar recommendations from other customers.

Kiss the Frog exterior by Pape Ave on a cold afternoon on Feb. 17(Deerick Tablon/Toronto Observer)

But, despite its popularity, the store could still use some help, McNeilly says.

A plea for the new mayor

“With the economy the way it’s been, things haven’t bounced back from COVID,” she explains. “So, support is still needed financially.”

The resignation of Mayor John Tory was made official on Feb. 17. So small businesses brace for a change in governance.

Everyone was hit hard by the pandemic. Canadian businesses are no exception to that, especially smaller ones.

The graph by the city of Toronto shows the trend of unemployment in specific job sectors during COVID-19 by(COVID-19: Impacts and Opportunities)

According to a StatCan data resource, small and medium-sized businesses make up 98.1 per cent of all employer businesses in the country in 2021.

“Small businesses employed 9.7 million individuals in Canada, making up about two-thirds of the work force, in 2020,” according to the report.

Of course, having money alone is not enough to keep a business going. It needs a customer base. The next mayor will need to implement programs to help promote small businesses, according to McNeilly.

The city’s website has resources on what programs new entrepreneurs can use when starting a business. One such method is through Access Community Capital Fund.

“To borrow, one does not need to have a credit history, or may have a poor credit record due to unemployment, illness, or unforeseen life events,” according to the description for ACCF.

Business owners can apply for many other grants, like the Black Entrepreneurship Loan Program and Indigenous Arts & Culture Parternships Fund that cater specifically to those who identify within the groups.

Naturally, without the community supporting small businesses like Kiss the Frog, no amount of grants will be able to keep it afloat indefinitely.

McNeilly says the best way the community can help small businesses like hers is to just “spend money.”

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Posted: Mar 17 2023 10:34 am
Filed under: Business COVID-19 News Politics