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Drywall Support Program - Addressing Real Needs In Real Time

The Situation

Drywall Prices Increase

  • In fall 2016, extra tariffs were imposed on drywall imports, resulting in unexpected losses for drywall contractors and builders across Western and Northern Canada.
  • The increase in drywall prices also hit homeowners in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (RMWB) whose homes were severely damaged or destroyed in the 2016 wildfires.
  • In February 2017, Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) was asked to create a program to help those affected.

New Client Groups

Meeting Their Needs

  • Working directly with the construction industry was new for WD.
    • We were unfamiliar with their process and records, as they were with ours.
  • WD also needed to reach out to individual homeowners in the RMWB.
    • This was made more difficult as not everyone was present in the community after the fires.
  • WD knew that the program needed to be streamlined, straightforward, and that applications needed to be processed quickly.

Quick to Action

Going for Grants

  • It was determined that WD's current programming didn't fit the target audience.
    • The decision was made to create a grant program from the ground up.
  • For homeowners, WD created an online application form that also functioned as the legal agreement.
    • The streamlined form could be completed in 5 minutes and reduced program delivery costs.
  • WD's internal processes were also automated to reduce time spent on assessments.
  • 63 days after the request, the Drywall Support Program began accepting applications.
    • This was twice as fast compared to the Canada 150 Program.

Engaging Stakeholders

  • WD consulted with industry associations to assist in the development of the application and assessment processes.
  • Additionally, WD worked with industry, the RMWB, and other unique partners to spread word about the program.

Social Media

New Outreach Strategies

  • In order to reach this new client group, WD used social media more than ever before.
    • Utilizing Twitter, WD launched the hashtag #DrywallSupport to publish new information.
    • LinkedIn was also used to spread the message amongst the business community.

Increased Engagement

  • The Drywall Support Program webpage received over 9,000 page views, of which 6,700+ were unique.
  • Twitter engagement reached new highs for WD:
    • 22 Tweets were seen over 74,000 times and resulted in 872 engagements and 220 URL clicks.
    • Compared to routine Tweeting, the drywall Tweets saw:
      • 4 times as many impressions (# of views),
      • 5 times as many engagements (# of likes/retweets),
      • 6 times as many clicks.

Who We Helped

  • WD received interest from hundreds of homeowners and organizations from across Western and Northern Canada.
  • Throughout the summer and fall of 2017, relief was provided to those most affected by the increase in drywall prices.

Going Forward

Support for Future Programming

  • With the Drywall Support Program, WD effectively piloted its first grant program.
  • Client reception to the program was positive as it reduced the reporting and administrative burden on applicants.
  • Low risk and low dollar value programs could benefit from this streamlined approach in the future.
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