Rural Ontario is comprised of several types of rural regions, including smaller urban fringe communities, agriculture communities, mining towns, cottage country communities, and Aboriginal communities. Because of this diversity and significant economic differences between each, implementing a ‘one size fits all’ economic development policy is extremely difficult, if not impossible to do. Developing regional economic development initiatives can best support long-term economic growth, which is why the Government of Ontario provides support for rural economy-boosting activities.
The Rural Economic Development (RED) fund offers government grants for municipalities and non-profits who eliminate barriers to rural economic development. This includes economic planning (research, planning, strategy development) and implementation (sector development, marketing and promotion, and workforce attraction/retention) activities. Through the program, applicants may access Ontario government grants to improve the ability for their community to support business investment.
Ontario’s Rural Economic Development fund provides up to 50% of project expenses to a maximum $100,000 in Ontario government grants.
At this time, two upcoming application intake periods have been announced by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA):
- October 16 to December 1, 2017; and
- July 30 to September 28, 2018.
To access these Ontario government grants, eligible applicants must submit completed application packages within these timelines.
Rural Economic Development (RED): Grants for Municipal Governments and Non-Profits
Since 2013, Rural Economic Development has provided more than $8 million towards nearly 160 community economic development projects. This has led to the generation of over $25 million in new economic activity and creation/support for more than 600 rural jobs. In 2016 alone, 38 community-based projects were approved for approximately $1.8 million in funding.
The RED program is uniquely positioned to award grants for non-profits and grants for municipal governments. Both groups can access up to $100,000 in Ontario government funding to support strategic economic planning and implementation activities that will lead to identifiable and sustainable community benefits.
Applicants Eligible for RED Grants Ontario
To apply for Ontario government funding through the RED program, applicants must be either be a(n):
- Legal non-profit entity;
- Local Services Board; or
- Indigenous community or organization.
Please Note: Although previously eligible through RED’s Business Stream, for-profit entities and research institutions are no longer eligible for funding.
Types of Projects Eligible for RED Ontario Government Funding
There are many types of projects that will be considered for RED funding over the coming two intakes. These include projects aligned to economic planning and implementation:
- Plans and Strategies: Developing economic development plans, business retention and expansion plans, workforce plans, community improvement plans, downtown revitalization plans, etc.
- Applied Research and Analysis: Sector or economic analysis, market research, feasibility studies, marketing strategies, etc.
- Sector Development and Economic Diversification: Building a business database, business training and mentoring, sharing best practices, incubator or business accelerator development, rehabilitation of cultural, heritage, or tourism attractions, etc.
- Marketing, Promotion, and Branding: Website development or optimization, promotion and outreach programs, etc.
- Workforce Attraction, Retention, and Development: Leadership development, targeted workforce development, mentorship, industry/sector training, etc.
How RED Project Applications are Assessed
Funding applications submitted for RED Ontario government grants are vetted through a detailed assessment process. Some of the criteria applications are graded on consist of:
- Overall benefit to rural Ontario;
- Applicant’s financial contribution to the project;
- Demonstrated project management experience, resources, and skills to achieve expected outcomes;
- Sustainability of results beyond project timelines; and
- Degree of collaboration.
Successful RED Projects from Past Intakes
In a recent application intake period for the RED program, the following projects were some of those that were successfully awarded economic development funding:
- Frontenac Community Futures Development Corporation: Received up to $49,920 to offer business education and information and communications technology support for various hardware, software and broadband applications.
- Municipality of Trent Hills: Received up to $32,000.00 to develop a downtown revitalization plan for the Town of Campbellford.
- Open Doors for Lanark Children and Youth: Received up to $29,945 to help rural municipalities and rural community-based organizations effectively manage data analytics in support of evidence-based planning, decision-making and accountability.
How to Apply for Rural Economic Development Funding
To apply for the Rural Economic Development program, municipalities and non-profits must submit a comprehensive application package that encompasses an application form, financial statements, letters of support, and quotes to budget project expenses.
The upcoming application intake dates for RED funding are October 16 – December 1, 2017 and July 30 – September 28, 2018. Please submit applications during these periods to access these Ontario government grants.
Additional Resources: Rural Economic Development
Get Started: A high-level snapshot of the RED program and full directory for program resources.
Eligibility Criteria: An in-depth review of specific eligibility factors that determine who’s eligible for funding, and what types of activities are a good fit for RED grants.