Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC) Funding for Northern Ontario Business

Northern Ontario provides robust economic opportunities to businesses of all sizes and sectors. As a growing, high-potential Canadian region, there are numerous advantages to investing and scaling a business here, including access to a growing workforce, leading infrastructure and transportation systems, and government grants and loans.

Many of these government incentives are offered through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC), an agency that administers funding programs exclusively to Northern Ontario businesses. These repayable and non-repayable contributions are a catalyst for investment as they offset a considerable portion of strategic project costs.

By accessing NOHFC funding programs, companies can reduce eligible project expenses by up to 75% or more.

To receive NOHFC funding, companies must submit a comprehensive application package that includes an overview of the business and project. Applications are accepted on a continuous basis; most programs under NOHFC have a deadline of June 30, 2020. Upon receiving approval from the program, applicants may begin incurring funding-eligible expenses.

About Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC) Funding

The suite of NOHFC funding programs available is quite extensive. There are many streams of funding in particular that are well-suited to support Northern Ontario businesses, including multiple sub-programs. Companies should explore each of these programs to understand which is the best fit to their upcoming strategic projects and expenses.

Northern Ontario businesses can access up to 75% or more of project expenses through many of NOHFC’s investment incentive programs.

Generally, the regions covered for funding include Algonquin Park and above (major cities include: Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie, and Thunder Bay).

NOHFC Priority Economic Sectors

For all business funding programs mentioned in this article, applicants must ensure they fit one of NOHFC’s priority economic sectors. These include (but are not limited to):

  • Advanced manufacturing;
  • Agriculture, aquaculture, and food processing;
  • Digital economy;
  • Forestry and value-added forestry-related industries;
  • Minerals and mining supply;
  • Renewable energy;
  • Transportation, aviation, and aerospace; and
  • Water technologies.

NOHFC’s Northern Ontario Business Grants and Loans

NOHFC’s current suite of government funding programs for businesses include:

Northern Business Opportunity Program

The Northern Business Opportunity Program supports economic development by encouraging productivity, expansion, and global investment.

Business Expansion Projects

  • Objective: To expand and/or retain operations within Northern Ontario to improve competitiveness, increase productivity, export, grow revenues, and create jobs.
  • Amount: Up to 50% of total eligible project costs up to a maximum of $1 million per project. Funding is in the form of a conditional grant to a maximum of 20% of total eligible costs OR $400,000, whichever is less, plus a repayable loan to a maximum of 30% of total eligible costs OR $600,000, whichever is less. Companies can apply for just the grant, or for just the loan.
  • Eligibility: SMEs in various industries, such as advanced manufacturing, agriculture, aquaculture, and food processing.
  • Project Focus: Capital construction, leasehold improvements, new or used equipment integration, third-party training programs. The proposed project should result in net economic benefits for Northern Ontario. Consideration of funding will be based upon the creation of full-time equivalent jobs in Northern Ontario.

New Investment Projects

  • Objective: Assist competitive businesses that currently do not have a presence in Ontario in expanding operations to Northern Ontario and create jobs.
  • Amount: Provided on a case-by-case basis. Can consist of either a conditional grant, or a combination of conditional grants and repayable funding.
  • Eligibility: Established businesses without operations in Northern Ontario intending to develop a presence. Must be in an emerging economic sector prioritized by NOHFC.
  • Project Focus: Must create jobs in Northern Ontario, must become a new anchor for investments and/or support regional cluster development, and must align with existing and emerging priority economic sectors.
  • Deadline: June 30, 2020.

Small Business Startup Projects

  • Objective: Assist companies in Northern Ontario that intend to commence operations in existing and emerging priority economic sectors.
  • Amount: NOHFC assistance will be in the form of a conditional contribution and will generally not exceed 50% of eligible project costs up to a maximum of $200,000.
  • Eligibility: The proposed new business will operate on a full-time basis and result in job creation in Northern Ontario. It is expected that the entrepreneur will work at the business on a full-time basis. Applicants are required to provide a minimum equity contribution in the amount of 15% of eligible project costs.
  • Project Focus: New company must operate in one of the existing and emerging priority sectors, such as advanced manufacturing, agriculture, aquaculture, and food processing.
  • Deadline: June 30, 2020.

Northern Innovation Program

The Northern Innovation Program supports technology development and commercialization projects that contribute to future prosperity and foster collaboration among the private sector, academic institutions, and research institutes.

Applied Research & Technology Development Projects

  • Objective: Undertake applied research or pre-commercialization activities required to further develop new technologies and move them to market.
  • Amount: Up to 50% of eligible project costs to a maximum $250,000 as a conditional contribution.
  • Eligibility: Private companies alone or in partnership with an Ontario academic or research institution.
  • Project Focus: Applied research or pre-commercialization activities required to move new technologies to market.
  • Deadline: June 30, 2020.

Opportunity Assessment Projects

  • Objective: Assist Northern Ontario businesses with identifying opportunities for new technology development projects.
  • Amount: Up to 75% of project costs to a maximum of $15,000.
  • Eligibility: For-profit companies in partnership with academia. Must be in an emerging economic sector prioritized by NOHFC.
  • Project Focus: Undergo a feasibility study for new technology development project. Service providers must be a not-for-profit organization (i.e., colleges, universities, innovation centres, etc.)
  • Deadline: June 30, 2020.

Pilot Demonstration & Commercialization Projects

  • Objective: Assist Northern Ontario businesses with reducing the technical and financial risks associated with scaling up and demonstrating their new and innovative technologies and to support them as they ramp up for commercial production.
  • Amount: Up to 50% of project costs to a maximum $500,000 as a conditional contribution.
  • Eligibility: Private companies alone or in partnership with a Northern Ontario academic or research institution. Preference is given to public-private partnership projects involving Northern Ontario academic or research institutions.
  • Project Focus: Research and development or commercialization activities for new technologies.
  • Deadline: June 30, 2020.

Industrial Research Chairs

  • Objective: Assist in the establishment of research capacity at Northern Ontario universities, colleges, and research institutes that will lead to greater research opportunities.
  • Amount: 50% of eligible costs to a maximum of $1 million as a conditional contribution.
  • Eligibility: Northern Ontario universities, colleges, and research institutes.
  • Project Focus: Research leading to the transformation of Northern Ontario’s key economic sectors which, in turn, will help attract and retain highly qualified personnel.
  • Deadline: June 30, 2020.

Strategic Economic Infrastructure Program

  • Objective: To help a region or community advance economic development opportunities and support investment through strategic infrastructure.
  • Amount: Does not exceed the lesser of 50% or $1 million towards eligible project components.
  • Eligibility: Municipalities, First Nations, not-for-profit corporations, and educational institutions.
  • Project Focus: Strategic infrastructure projects that have a direct and demonstrable net economic impact in Northern Ontario, with a focus on job creation. Eligible projects include:
    • Industrial parks with preference to be given for development of vacant and/or underused lots within a previously developed area;
    • Capital projects that encourage partnerships among communities, educational institutions, skills training providers, and industry to respond to labour market needs and opportunities;
    • Major tourism infrastructure costs necessary to support an event;
    • Brownfield site redevelopment and/or infill development; and
    • Information and communications technology infrastructure.
  • Deadline: June 30, 2020.

Northern Community Capacity Building Program

  • Objective: Helps northern communities develop the capacity to promote, attract, and support economic growth in existing and emerging priority economic sectors.
  • Amount: Up to 75% or $50,000 for community-based projects. Up to 75% or $100,000 for regional, partnership-based projects.
  • Eligibility: Municipalities, First Nations, local service boards (for projects related to their approved powers) and not-for-profit organizations including educational institutions.
  • Project Focus:
    • Infrastructure requirement studies;
  • Identifying capacity-building and investment opportunities;
    • Strategic planning (community economic development plans, investment priorities identification, etc.);
    • Sector-based research projects that align with the priority sectors and are supported by existing community and regional strategic plans or initiatives;
    • Capacity assessment;
    • Business retention and attraction strategies; and
    • Regional economic development plans that align with existing and emerging priority economic sectors and guide development of priority initiatives.
  • Deadline: June 30, 2020.

Northern Event Partnership Program

  • Objective: Partner with organizations that are staging events that promote economic development in Northern Ontario. The event will facilitate job creation and retention, investment attraction, tourism, and/or research and development/innovation.
  • Amount: Up to 30% to a maximum of $15,000.
  • Eligibility: Municipalities, First Nations, local service boards (for projects related to their approved powers) and not-for-profit organizations including educational institutions.
  • Project Focus: Events with a core purpose related to economic development, tourism, job creation and retention, and/or capacity-building. Annual and/or recurring events that present a new enhancement through changes in programming and activities that lead to improved quality and/or sustainability of the event.
  • Deadline: June 30, 2020.

NOHFC Funding: Northern Ontario Business Success Stories

The Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation has awarded funding to several businesses. Some success stories include:

How to Apply for NOHFC Grants and Loans

To get started with the NOHFC funding programs mentioned throughout this article, companies are required to develop and submit an application package for further evaluation. Applications generally communicate the project’s intended benefits, as well as the business’ capacity to complete the proposed project.

Prior to starting an application, it’s critical to ensure that your company has explored its full range of government funding options. NOHFC is one government funding body that awards funding to Northern Ontario businesses, however there are a wide range of federal and provincial programs that can also provide support.

Contact Mentor Works to learn more about your eligibility for NOHFC funding and explore if there are additional funding opportunities for your business.

Apply for Canadian Government Funding

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Myra educates and inspires leaders on ways to enhance their business’ growth projects through blog and web publication, social media, and event management.

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