Southwestern Ontario Development Fund: Grants of 15% and interest-free loans

If your company is growing and creating jobs, the Government of Canada wants to help. The Southwestern Ontario Development Fund (SWODF) is one of many incentive programs aimed at stimulating economic development in regions in Ontario where there’s not a significant industry presence. SWODF applies to the following 18 regions – Brant, Bruce, Chatham-Kent, Dufferin, Elgin, Essex, Grey, Haldimand, Huron, Lambton, Middlesex, Niagara, Norfolk, Oxford, Perth, Simcoe, Waterloo and Wellington.

Eligible and ineligible projects. The SWODF supports projects that: (1) create jobs and build talent in Southwestern Ontario; (2) attract and encourage private-sector investment; (3) lead to business growth and broad positive economic impacts; (4) encourage innovation, collaboration and cluster development; and (5) contribute to the diversification of the economy of Southwestern Ontario. Ineligible projects include: (1) ongoing operations including maintenance and capital replacement; (2) refinancing of existing business operations; (3) acquisitions and buyouts; and (4) restructurings or relocations to other jurisdictions within Ontario

SWODF Eligibility criteria. Businesses must meet the following criteria:

• Have been operating for at least three years and have financial statements

• Employ at least 10 people (or five if you’re located in rural Ontario)

• Commit to creating at least five new jobs as a result of the funding (or a 30% increase for companies with fewer than 15 employees)

• Invest at least $500,000 in their project (or $200,000 if you’re located in rural Ontario)

• Be located in, or plan to locate in, a community in southwestern Ontario

• Be used for activities that are new to the organization

SWODF financial support. There are two types of financial support for the SWODF program:

Loans. Up to 15% of funding to a maximum of $5,000,000 interest-free loans during the project period, which is a maximum of four years. If the business achieves its investment and job targets, up to 30% of the loan (to a maximum of $500,000) may be forgiven.

Grants. SWODF grants are available only for specific circumstances (up to 15%) to a maximum of $500,000 if the business company has fewer than 100 employees and is based in rural Ontario. This is defined a community with a population of less than 100,000 or population density is less than 100 people per square kilometre. Plus, grants of up to $1,500,000 are also available for strategic projects that are foreign direct investments, or from companies competing against other jurisdictions (in limited circumstances).

Funding restrictions. Businesses are not allowed to combine (or “stack”) Southwestern Ontario Development funding with other provincial programs.

Additional business projects assistance. Businesses may be eligible for other assistance related to advisory services, assistance with environmental compliance approvals, assistance in accessing skills and talent, and information related to available tax credits. Business applicants may also be eligible for other assistance related to advisory services and navigation support for land-use planning and workforce development.

Application deadlines. Eligibility checklists can be submitted at any time, but should be submitted well in advance of the application intake period. There are four application intake periods per year for full applications. Applicants will be notified of decisions within 60 business days of the application deadline. For additional information, please go to: https://www.ontario.ca/document/regional-development-program-guidelines-business-projects

Application Period 7 – 2021

• Application opening: July 28, 2021 – September 9, 2021

• Application deadline: September 9, 2021

• Application assessment period (60 business days): September 13, 2021 – December 8, 2021

• Notification date (last day to notify applicants): December 8, 2021

Application Period 8 – 2021-22

• Application opening: October 27, 2021 – December 14, 2021

• Application deadline: December 14, 2021

• Application assessment period (60 business days): December 16, 2021 – March 16, 2022

• Notification date (last day to notify applicants): March 16, 2022

Application Period 9 –2022

• Application opening: February 9 – March 23, 2022

• Application deadline: March 23, 2022

• Application assessment period (60 business days): March 28, 2022 – June 23, 2022

• Notification date (last day to notify applicants): June 23, 2022

Bonny Koabel
Bonny Koabel CPA, CGA is President of AKR Consulting Canada a Mississauga, ON firm specializing in Government Grants, Subsidies, Tax Credits, Refunds and Rebates since 2003.

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