One Year Later: Cambridge’s Economic Response Plan

Posted on Tuesday March 16, 2021

City Council received a staff report today detailing the numerous initiatives and ongoing activities that have been implemented to support local businesses and economic recovery since the COVID-19 pandemic started a year ago. 

As well, Council approved $75,000 in funding to support the Waterloo Region Tourism and Marketing Corporation to help boost confidence in the tourism sector. This is in addition to previous funding noted below.

“Lots of local businesses have been very creative over the last year, offering online and curbside options, and taking advantage of our streamlined patio program,” said James Goodram, Director of Economic Development.

“The closure of a portion of Queen Street East in Hespeler on Saturdays created a pedestrian mall atmosphere. Our INVEST Cambridge staff have been encouraging residents to support local through an #orderfromhome campaign. Many businesses pivoted to making PPE, hand sanitizer and other COVID-related items. Even during a pandemic, businesses are choosing to move here. In August, for example, we were pleased to announce that Amazon is opening a new delivery station in the city.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on the economy, both globally and locally, and all levels of government have launched a range of support programs. As a result, Invest Cambridge staff continue to work with the local Business Industry Associations, the Chambers of Commerce, and other partners to help businesses connect to the appropriate resources and navigate the various processes.

Over the coming months, City staff will continue to work closely with partner organizations in the Region and Province and identify further opportunities as support and recovery efforts continue in 2021.

Key initiatives over the past year:

  • Business Connections – facilitated many business connections for local companies, such as Eclipse Automation, who were looking for assistance with identifying local suppliers who could supply components for ventilator manufacturing and machining services.
  • Business Outreach –reached out to the Cambridge business community through a survey to help understand the effectiveness of Federal and Provincial assistance programs, identify gaps, and gain an understanding of any unique issues that Cambridge was facing.
  • Waterloo Region Tourism Marketing Corporation (WRTMC) Support Program – provided $25,000 to WRTMC to help secure funding from the Federal Government to assist local tourism businesses during the pandemic. A total of nine Cambridge businesses were approved through this program with a total of approximately $45,000 awarded to them. *The additional funding approved today is anticipated to be used towards additional outdoor dining opportunities in the coming months.
  • Downtown Development Team – made up of City of Cambridge staff members from Building, Planning and Economic Development divisions, this team meets monthly to review and address the unique challenges that can occur when renovating buildings in the core areas.
  • Core Area Connections – development of a Core Area Connections web page to provide a one-stop-shop for businesses and residents looking for information specific to these areas.
  • Queen Street Closure - assisted the Hespeler BIA in closing a portion of Queen Street East to create a Saturday pedestrian mall experience, by providing additional outdoor space for social distancing, patio expansions, and pedestrian safety.
  • Small Business Supports – provided support through the Waterloo Region Small Business Centre to promote Digital Main Street and Starter Company Plus programs to help businesses move online.
  • #OrderFromHome campaign – the City developed a digital campaign to support local restaurants and shops in Cambridge during provincially-mandated closures. This features interactive online maps of business locations.
  • Streamlined Patio Program – expediated the permit process for temporary patios to allow business and restaurant owners to increase their outdoor space and enable patrons to enjoy local restaurants with increased distancing and safety.
  • Cambridge and Kitchener/Waterloo Chambers of Commerce - On Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, the Chambers host an access to professionals to assist businesses to navigate the programs that the Federal and Provincial governments have offered to businesses as a result of the pandemic. The City markets this valuable resource through our networks.
  • Dedicated Resource Web Page - lists federal, provincial and municipal programs available to local businesses and residents as well as important links to programs and services that promote and support local businesses.

The report also provides an overview of good news stories of businesses who have pivoted during the pandemic or moved to Cambridge.

Read the full report.

The City first released its Economic Response Plan in March of 2020 identifying a number of actions and initiatives to help support residents and the business community during COVID-19. An earlier update on this plan was also presented in June of 2020.


Primary media contact

Erin Haase
Communications Advisor
City of Cambridge