How it works

The Southwestern Ontario Development Fund provides support for projects and investments to businesses, municipalities and not-for-profit organizations for economic development in southwestern Ontario.

The types of support available include:

  • funding support
  • complementary services and support

The fund supports projects that:

  • create jobs and build talent
  • attract and encourage private sector investment
  • lead to business growth and broad positive economic impacts
  • encourage innovation, collaboration and cluster development

The geographic area

Southwestern Ontario includes the following 18 geographic areas:

  • Brant
  • Bruce
  • Chatham-Kent
  • Dufferin
  • Elgin
  • Essex
  • Grey
  • Haldimand
  • Huron
  • Lambton
  • Middlesex
  • Niagara
  • Norfolk
  • Oxford
  • Perth
  • Simcoe
  • Waterloo
  • Wellington

Who is eligible

The fund supports business and community economic development projects.

Business projects

To be eligible, businesses need to:

  • have at least 3 years of operations/financial statements
  • employ at least 10 people (or 5 if you are in rural Ontario)
  • commit to creating at least 5 new jobs (or 30% increase for companies with fewer than 15 employees)
  • invest at least $500,000 in their project (or $200,000 if you are in rural Ontario) 
  • be located in, or plan to locate in, a community in southwestern Ontario

Community economic development projects

To be eligible, projects need to:

  • be led by municipalities, economic development organizations or sector organizations
  • focus on economic and business development and job creation in the community or region by investing in infrastructure or implementing strategies to advance regional economic development priorities
  • lead to measurable outcomes including private sector investment, growth and job creation
  • invest more than $100,000
  • have private sector support
  • be used for activities that are new to the organization

Eligibility checklist

The first step in the application process is to speak with a regional advisor who can help you complete and submit the checklist. The checklist can be found on Transfer Payment Ontario.

Eligibility checklists are accepted on a continuous basis and should be submitted well in advance of the intake round deadlines or the start of the project start date.

Types of support

Funding

Business projects

Funding amount

Up to 15% of eligible project costs.

Loans

Up to 15% funding to a maximum of $5M, interest free during the project period (up to 4 years). If you achieve your investment and job targets, up to 30% of the loan (to a maximum of $500,000) may be forgiven.

Grants

Grants are available only for specific circumstances, up to 15% to a maximum:

  • Of $500,000 if your company has fewer than 100 employees and is based in rural Ontario (population of your community is less than 100,000 or population density is less than 100 people per square kilometre)
  • Of $1,500,000 for strategic projects that are foreign direct investments or from companies competing against other jurisdictions (in limited circumstances)
Restrictions

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

Community economic development projects

Funding amount

Up to 50% of eligible project costs for a maximum grant of up to $1.5 million.

Restrictions

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

Complementary services and support

Complementary Services and Supports are available when you submit a complete application to the Eastern Ontario Development Fund or Southwestern Ontario Development Fund through the Regional Development Program. These services are available for the duration of your project regardless of the funding outcome. Services will be coordinated by working with partner ministries until they are delivered, closed-out or finalized.

Business projects

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.

Community economic development projects

Applicants may be eligible for other assistance related to advisory services and navigation support for land-use planning and workforce development.

Application deadlines and decisions

Eligibility checklists can be submitted at any time but please submit them 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.

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

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 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 6 2021

Application opening:
April 22, 2021 – June 4, 2021

Application deadline:
June 4, 2021

Application assessment period (60 business days):
June 7, 2021 – September 1, 2021

Notification date (last day to notify applicants):
September 1, 2021

Application period 5 2021

Application period ending March 4, 2021 is now closed. Applicants with complete applications will be notified of a decision by June 2, 2021.

Application period 4 2020-21

Application period ending December 1, 2020 is now closed. Applicants with complete applications were notified of a decision by March 2, 2021.

Application period 3 2020-21

Application period ending August 28, 2020 is now closed. Applicants with complete applications were notified of a decision by November 26, 2020.

Application period 2 2020-21

Application period ending May 29, 2020 is now closed. Applicants with complete applications were notified of a decision by August 25, 2020.

Application period 1 2019-20

Application period ending January 20, 2020 is now closed. Applicants with complete applications were notified of a decision by April 16, 2020.

How to apply

Step 1: Contact a regional advisor for help with your application. 

Step 2: Register for Transfer Payment Ontario.

Step 3: Submit an eligibility checklist. Staff will confirm whether your project is eligible.

Step 4: Once you know you are eligible, working with your regional advisor, complete the application forms and submit along with the required information.

For business projects, review the key documents including, program guidelines, sample eligibility checklist and a sample application form.

For community economic development projects, review the key documents including, program guidelines, sample eligibility checklist and a sample application form.

Selection process

Successful projects need to:

  • align with the fund’s goals of investment attraction and job creation in the regions
  • provide economic benefits (create jobs, contribute to the region or develop the sector)
  • be achievable (i.e. applicants need to have the necessary financing, project management structure and experience to implement the project)

Who to contact

For advice on developing and strengthening your application, you are encouraged to contact your regional advisor or our Business Advisory Services at:

Business Advisory Services - Western Region Main Office

Business Advisory Services - Central Region Main Office

Questions

For more information, please contact us at: swodf@ontario.ca

Updated: September 22, 2021
Published: June 05, 2013