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 50% 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; companies can submit them until NOHFC’s current funding allotment ends on March 31, 2019. 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 three streams of funding in particular that are well-suited to support Northern Ontario businesses, including two with multiple sub-programs; this offers companies eight distinct types of funding support to potentially access. 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 50% or more of project expenses through many of NOHFC’s investment incentive programs.

Other NOHFC programs targeted towards municipalities and non-profits include the Northern Community Capacity Building Program and the Strategic Economic Infrastructure Program. For more information about these incentives, please consult NOHFC’s website.

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. There are four streams in this program available to businesses, including:

Business Expansion Projects

  • Amount: Funding is offered as either (1) a conditional grant of up to 20% of total eligible costs to a maximum $400,000; (2) a conditional grant of up to 20% to a maximum $400,000, plus a repayable loan of up to 30% of total eligible costs to a maximum $600,000; or (3) a repayable loan of up to 50% of total eligible costs to a maximum $1,000,000.
  • Eligibility: Established businesses in Northern Ontario expanding operations through capital investment. Must be in an emerging economic sector prioritized by NOHFC.
  • Project Focus: Capital construction, leasehold improvements, new or used equipment integration, third-party training programs.

New Investment Projects

  • 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: Leasehold improvements, new or used equipment integration, third-party training programs, and marketing.

Small Business Startup Projects

  • Amount: Up to 50% of eligible project costs to a maximum $200,000 in conditional contributions. Reimbursement is required if assets financed by the NOHFC are sold within the business’ first three years in operation.
  • Eligibility: New businesses in Northern Ontario intending to start operations in an emerging economic sector prioritized by NOHFC.
  • Project Focus: Leasehold improvements, new or used equipment integration, third-party training programs, and marketing.

Film & Television Industry Projects

  • Amount: Up to 50% of eligible project costs to a maximum $500,000 in conditional grants.
  • Eligibility: Canadian production companies that own all rights necessary to produce and exploit the production. Projects with a budget of less than $1 million must be produced by an Ontario resident.
  • Timeline: Intake application deadlines held throughout the year.
  • Project Focus: Theatrical feature films, made-for-television movies, television drama series.

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. There are three streams in this program available to businesses, including:

Applied Research & Technology Development Projects

  • Amount: Up to 50% of eligible projects costs to a maximum $250,000 as a conditional contribution.
  • Eligibility: Northern Ontario for-profit businesses, alone or in partnership with an Ontario academic or research institution. Must be in an emerging economic sector prioritized by NOHFC.
  • Project Focus: Applied research or pre-commercialization activities required to move new technologies to market.

Opportunity Assessment 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: Development of an Opportunity Assessment Report that examines technical, market, and financial feasibility.

Pilot Demonstration & Commercialization Projects

  • Amount: Up to 50% of project costs to a maximum $500,000 as a conditional contribution.
  • Eligibility: Northern Ontario businesses alone, or with an academic partner, who have new technologies to move through late-stage R&D to the point of commercialization. Must be in an emerging economic sector prioritized by NOHFC.
  • Project Focus: Research and development or commercialization activities for new technologies.

Northern Ontario Internship Program

The Northern Ontario Internship Program strengthens competitive advantages and builds economic development capacity by attracting and retaining recent post-secondary graduates. There is one stream in this program:

Northern Ontario Internship Program

  • Amount: Up to 50% of wage to a maximum of $31,500.
  • Eligibility: Northern Ontario employers in operation for at least one year with one or more full-time employees. Must be in an emerging economic sector prioritized by NOHFC. Interns must have graduated within the last three years from a college or university program, be employed for the first time in their field of study, and be legally entitled to work in Canada.
  • Project Focus: Providing a 52-week internship to recent post-secondary graduates.

NOHFC Funding: Northern Ontario Business Success Stories

The Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation has awarded funding to several businesses. Some recent 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.

Companies can apply to most NOHFC grants and loans year-round, however, the current funding period is only active until March 31, 2019.

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

Posted: January 21, 2016 by Jeff Shepherd. Updated: June 28, 2018 by Jeff Shepherd.

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Jeff Shepherd holds an Honours Bachelor of Business Administration at the University of Guelph. He is passionate about Canadian business, economics, and politics. As Marketing Coordinator for Mentor Works, Jeff educates business leaders about proactive funding strategies.

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