Little Jamaica – the highest concentration of Toronto’s Black and Caribbean-owned businesses, have experienced a high level of disinvestment resulting from the Crosstown Light Rail Transit construction and the COVID-19 pandemic. A vibrant community full of culture and 85 Black businesses have been disproportionately impacted resulting in 48 vacant storefronts.
The community development initiative “BBPA in the Community: Eglinton West,” founded after consultations from Mayor John Tory’s Roundtable on Black Business, will build a plan that supports local Black-owned business growth and long-term sustainability while celebrating and preserving the community’s cultural heritage. It will also support the incubation of new business concepts.
The BBPA in the Community project has focused on initiating the second phase of BBPA in the community initiative with Little Jamaica and plans to support an estimated 40 businesses with a focus on best business practices and business development.
“In collaboration with the existing partners, we continue to assist Black-owned businesses. To that, in the next planned steps we are working in order to put into place further resources and support to grow and scale the businesses in Little Jamaica not just during the Crosstown expansion, but in a post COVID-19 recovery strategy as well.” Says BBPA Vice President, Ross Cadastre.
Our next step is to conduct individualized outreach and online digitization of local businesses. This detailed mapping of businesses in Little Jamaica serves to offer online promotion and enhance visibility. Taking advantage of Toronto’s Digital Main Street program, the BBPA will be engaged in one-on-one, hands-on teaching that will help these businesses learn about branding, gain a presence on social media and develop e-commerce solutions to help generate other income streams.
The goal at the end of this project is that all will experience the vibe of one of the city’s most colourful and attractive neighborhoods for dining, shopping and enjoying the culture that is “Little Jamaica” says Vice President of the BBPA Ross Cadastre.
As the Little Jamaica community continues to recover from the effects of gentrification and the pandemic, the BBPA is committed to maintaining ongoing support and collaboration to the Little Jamaica community and its businesses.