A Toronto business improvement area is offering its members grants of $500 each so they can develop online stores and move their operations to the web in wake of the global coronavirus pandemic.

The Yonge + St. Clair Business Improvement Area says its digital support fund will allow up to 30 of its member businesses develop online stores with the help of a digital marketing expert it retained.

“We’re trying to do as much as we can to support our local businesses,” Jessica Myers, Chair of the Yonge + St. Clair BIA said Tuesday. “And feel this grant can give them much-needed cash into their pockets now to help support their transition and growth into the digital space.”

The money can be used to develop a website, online advertising, training for staff or actually developing the tools to fill and ship orders received online.

Small businesses and especially physical storefront retailers have been hit hard by the pandemic, with all those deemed non-essential forced to shut their doors and those that remain open seeing far lower customer volumes.

Federal sources told CTV News last night that more than three million Canadians have applied for some type of assistance, either EI or the new Canada Emergency Response Benefit, since mid-March.