The Ontario government is celebrating Friday’s Franco-Ontarian Day in a big way.

The province announced this morning that it is investing $500,000 to support Franco-Ontario entrepreneurs and businesses.

It’s part of the government’s priority to promote francophone economic development throughout the province, by building on consultations held with the Franco-Ontarian business community since 2018.

$250,000 is supporting the creation of a new online platform called The Francophone Business Network (FBN) that will help businesses share their expertise and best practices and form new strategic partnerships. The remaining $250,000 will fund a campaign focused on promoting Franco-Ontarian products and services.

“As the province continues down the path of renewal, growth and economic recovery, these two initiatives will provide timely support to Ontario’s Francophone entrepreneurs and small and medium-size businesses while we continue to strengthen the Francophone business community,” said Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Francophone Affairs. “This investment will ensure that Franco-Ontarians can continue to access the goods and services they need and overcome the challenges businesses in the community are facing because of COVID-19.”

The government says that they are bringing in key players of the Franco-Ontarian business community; showcasing their products and services. They claim these two initiatives will help empower francophone businesses across the province.

The FBN will connect entrepreneurs and businesses with the goal to create or expand product lines, services and markets as well as increase visibility. The government is issuing a call for proposals targeting various organizations known for their expertise that will reach out to the franco business sector in Ontario.

The 2021 campaign will be designed to showcase Franco-Ontarian businesses and encourage Ontario to buy local.

“This concrete action by the government responds to the needs clearly expressed during the Minister’s consultations,” said Glenn O’Farrell, Special Advisor on Economic Development to the Minister of Francophone Affairs. “Ontario’s Francophone entrepreneurs and business sector will certainly benefit from these two complementary initiatives which will help strengthen the economic advantage that is Ontario’s Francophonie”.

Alongside the $500,000, Ontario is also investing $1 million for Francophone economic and community development through the Francophone Community Grants Program in 2020-21. Recipients for this year’s edition will be announced in October 2020.