As an industry rivalling Ontario’s automotive sectors, there is no denying the importance of Ontario’s farming origins. Farming defines Ontario’s rich historic past, but it is the central importance of the province’s agriculture in the present and future that are now in focus. Growing the sector and creating jobs for Canadians is essential for the economic health of the province.
Of course, one cannot define rural Ontario by agriculture alone. Rural communities provide essential contributions to Canada’s economy, both at home and on a global scale. Sparking a return to rural dominance will not happen accidentally: this requires a committed economic investment and decisive actions to help restore Ontario’s status as an innovator on a global scale.
Ontario’s Rural Economic Development Fund (RED) is an important financial investment into rural communities. This initiative provides government funding for businesses and organizations to bring in other investments, boost tourism, and generate new jobs. With support from RED, rural Ontario communities can find, train, and sustain a highly skilled and capable workforce to compete in today’s global economy.
RED supports innovation and creativity in local industries that transform into products and services for global consumption. RED is a serious program, with the province investing over $185 million towards 600 RED projects. This translates to over $1.2 billion in economic activity at the local level, all the while keeping and securing over 37,000 jobs.
Community Development Stream
Two streams comprise the RED funding program: the Community Development Stream and the Business Development Stream. Successful projects under either stream require detailed outlines of how a specific project benefits rural Ontario, with an emphasis on projects that support province-wide economic objectives.
Eligible applicants include legal entities that are municipalities, an individual (engaged in some role that is not a sole proprietary or a partnership engaged in a business), a local services board, First Nations, Inuit, or Métis community, and not-for-profits (as defined by the Income Tax Act).
Business Development Stream
In order to qualify for the Business Development Stream, the applicant (or any co-applicant) must be a legal entity with the authority to enter into a legal agreement, pending the success of their application.
Projects receive priority with a focus on economic growth and economic competitiveness.
Businesses looking for government funding can apply for five distinct categories. The first involves plans or strategies designed to stimulate economic growth. This includes business plans (whether retention or expansion), performance measurement plans, or workforce plans, for instance.
The second supports applied research in the sector (either generic or economically focused). This includes marketing strategies, market research, and feasibility studies.
The third looks at business development through diversification, including incubator or business accelerators, the dissemination of best practices, increasing market access, and encouraging mentoring or training in the workforce.
Marketing strategies comprise the focus of the fourth branch, including branding strategies, website development, promotion, and various forms of outreach.
The final aspect considers workforce attraction, retention, and development. Mentoring plays into this as well, including training by industry or sector, developing leadership, and focusing on new and upcoming workers.
Building on these five categories, RED encourages projects that develop community aesthetics and functionality, conduct research, foster development in retail or commercial sectors, or directly influence or lobby various levels of government.
For the Business Stream, RED provides government funding to businesses that covers up to 20% of eligible expense incurred, up to a maximum of $1 million.
For the Community Stream, RED covers up to half of eligible expenses. Funding varies based on project, but there is no maximum amount.
Due to the high financial benefits for businesses, the application process for the Rural Economic Development Fund is difficult. INAC will compile a strong application that includes the relevant studies, research, and reports that support your cause for community development. The selection process is highly competitive; we can provide you with the competitive edge.