'I've reinvented what we're doing' Orillia businesses pivot approach to stay afloat

Matt Spencer's CrossFit facility in Orillia has seen the ups and downs of any business struggling to power through the pandemic, and the gym owner says he's holding strong by pivoting his focus.

"I've reinvented what we're doing with the help of business coaches and the community that supports us, and now we're able to offer something that's better than ever," Spencer said.

CrossFit Orillia is one of 59 businesses in the area that split over $2 million in loans and potential grants through the federal government and the Community Futures Development Corporation.

The $50,000 Spencer received helped him grow his business by about 20 per cent through his online venture. "You can join a class, and you can ask the coach a question. They can give you feedback." Spencer said the changes made his business "future-proof" through the pandemic.

Wendy Timpano of Community Development Corporation said the money has helped save dozens of jobs. "The money is meant to be used for fixed operating costs or helping them to do something that allows them to change the way they are doing business so that they can survive and come through this pandemic in a way that makes them stronger."

Orillia City Councillor Ted Emond said the government recognized "how important small business is" while the community came together.

"The other thing that's really important are the people of Orillia who have stepped up and are using your curbside delivery and takeout and are spending their money here in Orillia to help these local businesses."