Released in 2013 as a five year, $400 million agri-funding initiative, Growing Forward 2 Ontario (GF2) provides Ontario small business grants to encourage innovation, competitiveness, market development, adaptability, and industry sustainability. Agricultural and agri-food businesses can receive up to 35-50% of project costs related to innovation, strengthening supply chains, productivity, assurance systems, and other key industry issues.
Growing Forward 2 Ontario for food processors has recently undergone changes to pinpoint priority industry issues for small businesses in the agri-food industry. One such change is that businesses will no longer need to apply for either the Capacity Building or Project Implementation streams, as they have now been combined into one stream with various subsections related to the six focus areas of GF2 (see below).
Funding Details for Growing Forward 2 Ontario Business Grants
The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), the provincial agency which oversees the Growing Forward 2 Ontario program, has outlined six focus areas which all eligible projects must be categorized under. They include:
- Environment and climate change adaptation;
- Plant and animal health;
- Assurance systems (including food safety, traceability, and animal welfare);
- Market development;
- Productivity and labour enhancement; and
- Leadership and business development.
Projects that fit into the above categories may be eligible to apply for Growing Forward 2 Ontario. Eligible applicants may receive 50% of assessment project expenses, or up to 35% of project implementation expenses (up to 50% for highly innovative projects). Processors may receive a maximum of $350,000 during the lifetime of the GF2 program, so if previous funding has been obtained through GF2, it can limit the amount which can be received for current projects.
To avoid disqualifying your project, please ensure that you’ve received approval prior to incurring expenses. Up to two applications may be approved during a single intake period, allowing businesses to submit and capitalize on Ontario government grants for two projects at a time.
Growing Forward 2 Ontario Government Funding 2015 Intake Periods
Every year, GF2 Ontario provides several intake periods to review applications. Please ensure you contact Mentor Works in advance to help prepare your application and receive the most government grant funding for your projects.
The next application intake for GF2 Ontario food processors will be held between March 4-24, 2016.
Eligibility Factors to Receive GF2 Ontario Business Grants
Small businesses which would like to receive 35%-50% of project expenses must first qualify for Growing Forward 2 Ontario. Ensure preliminary eligibility by consulting the general company and project eligibility below.
Growing Forward 2 Ontario Small Business Eligibility
Each of the six project focus categories (above) have their own unique set of eligibility criteria, however, all small businesses and projects must meet these general qualifications to access GF2 government grants Ontario:
- Processors are actively engaged and directly involved in the processing, modification, and/or transformation of agricultural commodities, food, beverage or agricultural based bio products;
- Project must be categorized under one of the six focus areas, or meet the funding program’s desired outcomes;
- Project must not be used for other Ontario provincial programs, such as those offered by Foodland Ontario and Ontario Pork;
- Project is not research-based;
- Project budget is well-explained and accurate to project costs; and
- Permits and other approvals related to the project have already been secured.
Growing Forward 2 Ontario Expenses Eligibility
A variety of expenses are eligible for reimbursement through the GF2 Ontario government grants program. Some of these expenses include:
- Cost of goods, services, and supplies required for project completion;
- Contractors and external labour, however employee salaries ARE NOT eligible;
- Incurred costs for land rental, facilities, machinery, communication materials, and travel expenses (including car rentals, parking, etc.);
- Capital expenses including building construction, equipment, infrastructure, and plant upgrades*
* For capital expenses, applicants must provide a minimum 25% of these costs through cash contributions. Businesses must also ensure that funding assigned to capital expenses for the project do not total more than $100,000.
Learn More about Growing Forward 2 Ontario Grant Funding for Processors
To continue learning about the Growing Forward 2 Ontario program, please access one of the resources linked below:
Resources and Funding for Ontario’s Agriculture Industry
There are several resources available to help Ontario’s agri-food industry raise capital and implement new projects. Those who do not qualify for provincial or Canadian government funding programs may wish to access non-traditional funding sources, such as Foodstart, a crowdfunding platform specifically for agri-food businesses. Those interested in receiving a variety of government grants and loans can also participate in Mentor Works’ Canadian government funding webinars, including some specifically for the agri-food industry. To stay up-to-date with GF2 Ontario funding intake periods and other essential agri-food programs, register for Mentor Works’ weekly e-newsletter for funding program updates and other news critical to small business funding success.