On October 19, 2012, The Ontario Ministry of Economic Development & Innovation (MEDI) officially launched the new Southwestern Ontario Development Fund (SWODF) to help small businesses and municipalities invest in business expansion projects. As hinted at in our previous Southwestern Ontario Development Fund Preview Blog, SWODF has three main objectives:
- Attracting and retaining investment
- Creating and retaining jobs, and;
- Promoting innovation, collaboration and cluster development
Eligibility for Loan and Grant Funding Through SWODF
There are two streams available under SWODF:
- Business Stream: Covers up to 15% of eligible costs (average cost coverage of 10%) to a maximum non-repayable business funding grant of $1.5M. Project budgets >$10M that create 50+ jobs may be eligible for a repayable government loan of up to $5M.
- Regional Stream: Covers 50% of eligible costs up to $1.5M in grant funding.
The Regional Stream is available as a loan product directly to municipalities, however there are a number of criteria that companies must be aligned with in order to be eligible under the Business Stream:
SWODF Business Stream: Company Size Requirements
In order to be eligible for the SWODF Business Stream, Ontario small businesses must employ at least 10 payroll employees. Businesses with less than 10 employees may be eligible to apply through the Small Community Pilot stream of the program. If a company employs ≤20 full-time employees (FTE), the project must result in at least a 50% increase in workforce size. Consequently, if a company employs ≥20 FTE’s, the project must create at least 10 jobs.
SWODF Business Stream: Eligible Locations
All businesses applying for the SWODF business funding program must be physically located in Southwestern Ontario, according to Territorial Divisions Act, 2002: Brant, Bruce, Chatham-Kent, Dufferin, Elgin, Essex, Grey, Haldimand, Huron, Lambton, Middlesex, Niagara, Norfolk, Oxford, Perth, Waterloo, Wellington.
SWODF Business Stream: Preferred Industries
The Ministry of Economic Development & Innovation have priority sectors that will take precedence when reviewing submitted applications:
- Advanced Manufacturing (automotive, aerospace, plastics, clean technologies, etc.)
- Life Sciences
- Processing (primary and secondary)
- Information and Communication Technology
- Cultural Industries
Consequently, MEDI has noted that the following sectors are ineligible for small business grants through SWODF:
- Primary Production (agriculture, forestry, and mining)
- Retail Services
- Personal Services, e.g. personal grooming or care centres
- Professional Services, e.g. accounting, legal
- Free-standing Restaurants and Golf Courses
- Electricity Generation
- Residential Development, including condominiums and fractional ownership units
SWODF Business Stream: Project Eligibility
Companies with ≤10 FTE’s must create projects of at least $200,000 in size. Conversely, Ontario small businesses with ≥10 FTE’s must create a project budget of at least $500,000. All projects must be between 2 and 4 years in length and both investment and job creation aspects of the project must be met within the project timeline.
Projects must focus on job creation, however there are three key project themes that are eligible under SWODF’s Business Stream, according to the SWODF Business Stream Guide:
- New investment in new operations in Southwestern Ontario
- Investment in existing operations to improve competitiveness, productivity and pursue new markets or business expansions involving the introduction of new products or services (examples: new/modified offerings to the market place to better meet customer/client needs, entirely new product lines/mandates from within corporate group)
- Priority will be given to projects that lead to high value added, sustainable jobs; increased exports with a global focus; a highly skilled work force; and a culture of innovation
SWODF Business Stream: Eligible Costs
The SWODF Business Stream Guide notes the following costs as eligible under the Southwestern Ontario Development Fund’s Business Stream:
- Leasehold improvements of project facility
- Capital equipment
- Direct labour
- Materials & Supplies
- Sub-Contractor Fees
- Skills training
- Project-related permits, fees and other similar charges
Learn More About SWODF Ontario Government Funding
Choose from one of the following for more information, or to get started on your SWODF application today!
Apply for SWODF and other Small Business Funding Grants & Loans
If you are interested in applying for the Southwestern Ontario Development Fund (SWODF) and would like more information about the program, please contact a Mentor Works Canadian Government Funding Expert and we can evaluate your project, costs, and business structure. Mentor Works provides support on several Canadian government funding programs for Business Expansion, as well as training and hiring grants, research and development funding, and capital equipment funding for small business. Please follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, and our Weekly Canadian Government Funding Newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest Canadian small business funding programs.