Wheat grainsGrowing Forward 2 Ontario is offering Ontario small business grants. These are for Processors who have completed Capacity Building activities and are ready for the Project Implementation stage. Projects for this stream of Ontario small business grants funding should address a risk or issue identified in the Capacity Building stage. Project Implementation Ontario business grants are available to Processors who are established or new to the industry -provided they meet certain criteria.

Ontario Business Grants for Processors Company Eligibility

In order to be eligible for Growing Forward 2 Ontario government grants for small business established Processors must be registered as a legal for-profit entity in Ontario and be involved in the processing, modification, and/or transformation of agricultural commodities, food, beverage or agricultural based bio products. As such eligible established companies must have filed farm or business income taxes within the last year and have a Premises Identification Number. New processors must be based in Ontario and have filed personal income taxes in the last year. To be considered a new processor, taxes for the previous two years should not have been filed as a farm business. The new processor must have a Premises Identification Number and be able to demonstrate an annual projected income of $30,000 or more over the next three years.

Small Business Grants Ontario Funding through Growing Forward 2 Amount

Processors can receive funding through Ontario government grants to cover up to 35% of project costs. Innovative projects that meet additional criteria can be eligible for up to 50% of project costs. The maximum amount of funding available to a processor over the 5 year timeframe of the program is $350,000 – this includes project funding from the Capacity Building Stream and the Project Implementation stream.  For each application intake period, a processor can submit one application. A maximum of two approved applications can be executed concurrently. Project deadlines must be agreed to and met in order to receive funding. Projects can be a maximum of 2 years in length; longer projects will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Growing Forward 2 Ontario Government Grants Eligible Expenses

The costs that are considered eligible for GF2 funding for small business program include the incremental costs of renting facilities or land, equipment, machinery, communications materials and travel directly associated with the project. Incremental costs of contractors working on the project, but not salaries of full-time staff, can be included. Costs directly associated with the project for goods, services and supplies can also be included. Capital costs for the project can be included to a maximum value of $100,000. Specific to capital costs, the applicant must commit a minimum 25% of these costs as cash. A maximum of 15% of these costs can be in-kind.  Capital costs include: equipment, construction costs for buildings, on-farm and further processing infrastructure and plant upgrades.

Costs Ineligible for Small Business Grants Coverage:

  • Any cost not specifically required for the implementation of a project.
  • normal operating costs associated with carrying out a business, such as salaries and benefits of non-contract staff, office space, utilities, phone, materials, labour, board, committee and annual meetings, etc.
  • normal costs of establishing or maintaining a commercial operation
  • purchase or lease of land
  • purchase or lease of buildings
  • any cost, including a tax that is eligible for a rebate, credit or refund
  • any travel costs beyond those provided for in the Travel Cost Guideline
  • financing charges and loan interest payments
  • gifts and incentives
  • expenses incurred for other approved GF2 projects
  • permits and approvals
  • multi-use items (e.g. items that can reach beyond the scope of the project such as computers, printers, etc., which are not specifically required for the project).
  • costs incurred prior to April 1st of the approval year of the project.

Growing Forward 2 Small Business Grants Ontario Project Eligibility

Projects must fit with one of the following focus areas of Growing Forward 2:

Growing Forward 2 Focus Area: Environment and Climate Change

Eligible Projects:

  • Measure and benchmark resource and waste management efficiency (water, energy, materials, waste streams, etc.).
    • Purchase of productivity monitoring, metering and tracking equipment (permanent systems intended to be left in place); includes modification and improvements to existing systems
    • Purchase of software and reporting systems directly related to functionality of monitoring, metering and tracking equipment
      • Example: Integrated Energy Management Information Systems (EMIS)
  • Advisory services for system installation, calibration and optimization of monitoring, metering and tracking equipment
  • Advisory services for:
    • Initial Key Performance Indicator (KPI) analysis,
    • Development of baseline and benchmark of utilities (water and energy),
    • Development of environmental and productivity performance reports/report cards, and
    • Integration of KPI feedback data with product costing models (management and controller decision making processes)
  • Initial (first time) training of lead staff responsible for monitoring, metering and tracking equipment and system integration (i.e. train the trainer)
  • Equipment or technology upgrades to improve resource management (increase input efficiency, including utilities, materials and ingredients)
    • Capital expenses related to retrofitting, upgrading, modifying and acquiring new equipment, technology and processes associated with implementing projects that will lead to increased resource management efficiencies
      • Example: Compressed air systems, hot water heaters and boilers, pumps, cooling and refrigeration, compressed air balance tanks, freezer de-humidification systems, air curtains, new high efficiency replacement motors, fans/blowers, variable speed drives on large motors, heating, ventilation and air conditioning, roofing modifications to reduce thermal gain etc.
  • Engineering, installation and calibration costs associated with retrofitting, upgrading, modifying and acquiring new equipment, technology and processes that will lead to increased resource management efficiencies
  • Initial (first time) costs associated with training key personnel on project related new equipment, technology and processes (i.e. train the trainer)
  • Capital expenses to pilot and demonstrate retrofits, upgrades and acquisitions of new technology (and costs associated with installation and configuration) with the objective to increase resource efficiency (must demonstrate that the particular solution OR application has not been fully validated in Ontario (e.g. novel subsector application of a technology proven in another subsector))
  • Development and communication of a knowledge sharing plan linked to a pilot and demonstration project
  • Waste stream equipment or technology upgrades to mitigate risks to surface and ground water.
    • Capital expenses related to retrofitting, upgrading, modifying and acquiring new equipment, technology and processes associated with implementing projects that will improve waste stream management (by-product processing) and reduce risks to surface and ground water
      • Example: treatment to reduce effluent load, water re-use, biological oxygen demand (BOD) reduction, improvement to sewer discharge, grease interception
  • Engineering, installation and calibration costs associated with retrofitting, upgrading, modifying and acquiring new equipment, technology and processes that will lead to improved waste stream management (by-product processing) and reduce risks to surface and ground water
  • Initial (first time) costs associated with training key personnel on project related new equipment, technology and processes (i.e. train the trainer)
  • Capital expenses to pilot and demonstrate retrofits, upgrades and acquisitions of new technology (and costs associated with installation and configuration) with the objective to improve waste stream management (by-product processing) and reduce risks to surface and ground water (must demonstrate that the particular solution OR application has not been fully validated in Ontario (e.g. novel subsector application of a technology proven in another subsector))
  • Development and communication of a knowledge sharing plan linked to a pilot and demonstration project

Growing Forward 2 Focus Area: Animal and Plant Health

Eligible Projects:

  • Improvements to manage access and traffic onto and within the operation.
    • Clearly defining zones (e.g. Controlled Access Zone, Restricted Access Zone) and access points through signage, fencing, barriers, grading, landscaping.
    • Improving the efficiency of traffic flow to reduce contamination through establishing new or rerouting existing laneways, access routes and vehicle turning areas.
    • Controlling access to operation and buildings through gates, fencing, signage, locks, barriers, security monitoring equipment.
    • Modifications to existing structures to facilitate more efficient movement of animals and people to reduce biosecurity risks.
    • Vehicle and Equipment cleaning and disinfection to prevent introduction and spread of diseases and pests.
      • Construction of hard surface (e.g. concrete) pad or wash bay/facility for cleaning and disinfecting vehicles and equipment within the Controlled Access Zone or at a Controlled Access Point
      • Improve drainage and runoff to prevent standing water in operational area (Controlled Access Zone).
        • Re-grading laneway or yard (Must include sketch or site map)
        • Application of gravel or hard surface (asphalt, concrete)
        • Installation of drainage system (within Controlled Access Zone)
  • Improve manure handling and storage to reduce contamination, runoff and wildlife access.
    • Construction of a concrete pad or bunker for temporary placement of manure outside holding facility, including associated runoff management
    • Modifications to manure storage to prevent access from wildlife
    • Establish designated quarantine/isolation/segregation facilities for sick animals pending ante mortem exam.
      • Construction or modification of existing structures to create an isolation/quarantine facility
      • Modification of existing structures to create animal treatment or work area for service personnel
      • Improve emergency response capacity.
        • Testing emergency response plans through simulation exercises using the Incident Command System

Growing Forward 2 Focus Area: Assurance Systems

Eligible Projects:

  • Food Safety
    • Implement personnel and handling practices and procedures.
      • Time to develop personnel and handling practices, policies, procedures, schedules and records
      • • Equipment to support the implementation of personnel and handling practices:
      • Building upgrades to meet personnel and handling practices requirements:
      • Initial (first-time) costs to train workforce on the facility’s food safety program
  • Implement cleaning and sanitizing practices and procedures.
    • Time to develop cleaning and sanitizing, policies, procedures, schedules and records
    • Equipment to support the implementation of the cleaning and sanitizing programs
    • Initial laboratory testing to confirm cleaning and sanitizing program is effective
    • Building upgrades to meet cleaning and sanitizing requirements: upgrading interior surfaces to cleanable materials (non-toxic, smooth and non-absorbent), separate storage area for chemicals (room, chemical cabinet)
    • Initial (first-time) costs to train workforce on the facility’s food safety program
  • Implement practices and procedures to manage water supply, test and/or treat processing water.
    • Time to develop water program, policies, procedures, schedules and records
    • Equipment to support the implementation of water program policies, procedures, schedules and records: chlorinator, physical water treatment methods (e.g. ultraviolet, ozonation, filtering systems), equipment/tools for testing chemical levels in water (e.g. ORP meter/automated system), methods for water re-circulation treatment system
    • Initial laboratory testing to confirm that your water treatment program is effective
    • Initial (first-time) costs to train workforce on the facility’s food safety program
  • Develop and/or implement programs for facility interior and exterior, pest control, and/or preventative maintenance and calibration.
    • First time costs to develop programs (policies, procedures, schematics, schedules and records) for:
      • facility interior and exterior
      • pest control
      • preventative maintenance and calibration
    • Equipment to support implementation of programs (policies, procedures, schematics, schedules and records) for:
      • facility interior and exterior
      • pest control
      • preventative maintenance and calibration
    • Building upgrades to meet requirements of programs (policies, procedures, schematics, schedules and records), in areas of:
      • facility interior and exterior
      • pest control
      • preventative maintenance and calibration
  • Implement recall and traceability practices and procedures.
    • Time to develop recall and traceability procedures and records
    • Integration of existing production/product tracking software with traceability system i.e. Enterprise Resource Planning systems
    • Purchase, development and installation of traceability software/mobile apps related to recall, inventory/warehouse management and product/customer tracking
    • Wireless system/environment installation
    • Network server installation
    • Customization of existing software/mobile apps to meet compatibility needs with traceability system
    • IT support during development and installation of traceability system, software and equipment
    • Traceability label machines
    • Barcode scanners/readers
    • RFID scanners/readers (e.g. wands, panels)
    • Dedicated computer terminals for data entry into traceability system
    • Mobile devices directly related to traceability system (e.g. mobile terminals, handheld scanners)
    • Cables, wiring for traceability equipment (for terminals, labellers/printers, network, etc.)
    • Environmental housing of traceability system equipment to protect from elements
    • Integration of production equipment with traceability system (e.g. scales, conveyors)
    • Initial (first-time) costs to train workforce on the facility’s food safety program
  • Develop facility level Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points plan(s).
    • Time to develop Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) Plans, including policies, procedures, schedules, records, and management commitment statements/documents
    • Modifications to existing food safety documents to meet HACCP requirements
    • Equipment to support the implementation of HACCP Plans: e.g. metal detector, magnets, pasteurizer
    • Initial laboratory testing to confirm the HACCP system or process controls are effective
    • Monitoring devices required by HACCP Plans/CCPs: e.g. temperature probes, pH meters
    • Posters or signage depicting/explaining HACCP procedures
    • eBuilding upgrades to meet HACCP Plan requirements
    • Initial (first-time) costs to train workforce on the facility’s food safety program AND/OR perform internal HACCP system audit
  • Scientific validation to determine effectiveness of practices and control measures to control food safety hazards.
    • Time or fees for contracted experts to develop validation studies
    • Validation of control measures outlined in HACCP plans/CCPs
    • Validation of cleaning and sanitizing, water treatment and allergen programs
    • Validation of food safety process control measures (e.g. fermented sausage)
    • Shelf life studies
    • Cost of acquiring scientific and technical documentation which demonstrate that the control measures can control the identified hazard to a specified outcome.
    • Testing performed by an accredited laboratory to obtain validation results
    • • Purchase of tools and equipment to carry out the validation study
    • • Initial (first-time) costs to train workforce on the facility’s food safety program
    • Traceability
      • Develop and/or implement enhanced traceability and information sharing system(s).
        • Pilot testing of solutions, intended for needs assessment, gap analysis and evaluation of traceability information sharing solutions
        • Purchase of equipment, equipment modifications, and equipment set-up costs that are directly linked to the traceability system
        • Information technology infrastructure/equipment (e.g. servers, network capacity, wireless set-up, etc.)
        • Software and software development or customization costs associated with traceability system and information sharing networks
        • Information service provider/technical costs for traceability systems
        • Costs associated with the development of the traceability information sharing system (e.g. development of permission based systems, policies surrounding data access and security, policy and procedures associated with the information sharing system)
        • First time training costs associated with new equipment purchases, software or procedures related directly to the implementation of the project
        • Applied research projects, as well as pilots or demonstrations of innovative technologies, processes, practices, and systems. Innovative projects must include an accompanying knowledge translation and transfer plan (KTT).
        • Labeling and packaging design/development directly linked to differentiating a value-added product, marketing a product attribute, or directly linked to the traceability of the product (i.e. barcodes, Quick Response Codes)
        • Website creation/modification to link to traceability system
        • Development of marketing material directly connected to the traceability system (e.g. marketing materials that use QR codes to link traceability)
        • Project costs related to supporting/managing the Information Sharing Networks (e.g. dedicated project staff). Note: this support is limited to the duration of the project only and the applicant must submit a plan for sustainability of the project once project funding has ended
        • First time costs related to traceability implementation
        • Animal Welfare
          • Improve animal housing/holding areas.
            • Modifications to existing structures to provide more space or freedom of movement
  • Improve surfaces and flooring.
    • Modifications to existing structures to reduce impact on animal health and welfare
  • Improve animal handling and euthanasia procedures.
    • Equipment to facilitate humane handling methods or treatment procedures (e.g. chutes, head gates, herding or catching gates, paddles)
    • Humane stunning equipment
    • Modifications to existing structures to facilitate animal movement and reduce stress

Growing Forward 2 Focus Area: Market Development

Eligible Projects:

  • Meet established standards and requirements to gain access to new markets and expand existing market share.
    • Regulatory navigation to expand to new markets (domestic or abroad), or advisory services to get products to new markets and understand requirements
    • the adoption new practices, processes, technologies, or systems to meet established standards, certifications or market requirements
    • one time testing of products to meet established standards, certifications or market requirements, including analytical and quality testing
    • Develop new markets and expand existing market share.
      • First time implementation of a marketing plan, including:
        • brand development and focus groups for the purposes of identifying attributes, product messaging and position for a product line
        • in-store or in-market product demonstration costs
        • Promotional material development costs (e.g. advertisements, websites, packaging)
  • Advisory services to undertake export marketing activities:
    • providing specific sales and marketing guidance
    • planning and organizing trade events
    • in market intermediary qualification
    • leads generation, match making services
    • product introductory campaigns to regional or international markets
    • negotiation and facilitation services
    • Develop value-added products with attributes to satisfy specific market or customer demands.
      • New product and process development expertise, optimizing or reformulating existing product lines to develop and verify specific value-added attributes
      • intellectual property protection for novel food products and food production processes (e.g. trademark and/or patent application/registration costs)
      • external technical-scientific resources to test food and beverage products and verify specific value-added attributes, including:
        • chemical, microbial and sensory analyses
        • nutritional composition of food products
        • dietary / allergen testing
        • residue testing
        • real-time and accelerated shelf life studies
        • physical testing of final products to evaluate compliance to standards of quality, contents, presentation, workmanship and container integrity
  • packaging and labelling development and design to achieve specific value-added marketing attributes

Growing Forward 2 Focus Area: Labour Productivity Enhancement

Eligible Projects:

  • Install technology, equipment and software systems, and develop procedures to increase automation and labour productivity.
    • Capital expenses related to retrofitting, upgrading, acquiring new processing equipment, technology or software systems to increase automation and labour productivity. (includes equipment to package and label products) AND costs associated with installation and configuration
    • Modifications to existing equipment or technology for optimization AND/OR to enable the installation of automation and labour saving equipment and technology
    • Initial (first time) costs associated with training key personnel on project related new equipment, technology and processes (i.e. train the trainer)
    • Development and translation of existing labour productivity focused manufacturing policies, feedback systems, preventative maintenance procedures and standard operational procedures (SOPs) to improve personnel performance, reduce downtime, reduce waste and optimize labour availability
      • Example: processing standards (time, temperature, speed, etc.), proactive preventative maintenance routines, product quality specifications and employee scheduling systems
      • Example: visual productivity and performance management feedback systems/tools for personnel on the production floor
  • Capital expenses to pilot and demonstrate retrofits, upgrades and acquisitions of new processing equipment, technology or software systems (includes equipment to package and label products) and costs associated with installation and configuration, with the objective to:
    • explore potential to increase labour productivity,
    • that have not been fully validated in Ontario and/or in the particular application (e.g. the specific proposed sector or sub-sector)
  • Development and communication/ dissemination of a knowledge sharing plan linked to a pilot and demonstration project
  • Implement Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) best practices and Supply Chain optimization.
    • Evaluation and procurement of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system to improve labour productivity and process efficiency
    • Initial (first time) costs associated with training on new, project related ERP system (i.e. train the trainer)
    • Advisory services to develop individual product cost of production reports that integrate facility Key Performance Indicator (KPI) measurements (can include components such as sustainability / environmental performance)
    • First time costs associated with retaining supply chain and logistics advisory services (e.g. Third Party Logistics provider) to implement a logistics action plan; Procure logistics and supply chain proficiencies to address internal competency and capacity gaps, including:
      • Freight mode mix and routing optimization, freight negotiation, border requirement integration
      • Carrier selection, driver management procedures
      • Budgeting, demand forecasting, management performance reports

Growing Forward 2 Focus Area: Business and Leadership Development

Eligible Projects:

  • Implement business and leadership development activities resulting from completion of a capacity building project.
    • Activities resulting from completion of a capacity building project. For example: financial risk management software/tools, budgeting and forecasting tools, client relationship management software

Learn More about Growing Forward 2 Small Business Grants Ontario

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Written by

Ryan has a BA in economics, an MSc in management, and several published works including two books. As Marketing Analyst at Mentor Works, Ryan enjoys communicating with business owners & executives about government grants and funding available to help overcome obstacles to growth.

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