The economic development of northern Ontario is extremely important to all levels of government. To grow and sustain businesses in the region, government grants and loans can be obtained to offset a portion of project costs. This funding is allocated by governments on a regional basis, and is usually determined on population or development potential.
The Federal Economic Development Agency for Northern Ontario (FedNor) provides Canadian government funding to support economic growth and development in northern Ontario, while the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC) is responsible for Ontario government funding awarded to businesses in northern Ontario.
In 2006, FedNor provided $76 million in federal investments to northern Ontario. Now a decade later, they only provide $31 million in annual contributions.
On November 2, 2016, mayors from prominent northern Ontario communities met to discuss need for additional FedNor funding. They rationed that if federal funding was increased to a match the provincial contribution, businesses in the region would be able to become stronger and more diversified.
Northern Ontario Mayors Seek to Increase FedNor Budget
The Northern Ontario Large Urban Mayors (NOLUM) is a small committee consisting of mayors from Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, Timmins, North Bay and Thunder Bay. The group holds bi-annual meetings to collaborate on ways to grow northern Ontario.
Their most recent meeting, the mayors discussed the need for increased funding from the federal government, signalling that if FedNor could match or come close to NOHFC’s annual commitment, it would greatly help the region’s growth.
“If we can get both the provincial and federal agencies to work closer together, I think we are going to have greater success when it comes to job creation, growth and economic development in northern Ontario.”
– Al McDonald, Mayor of North Bay
How FedNor Funding and NOHFC Funding Supports Northern Ontario
During this year, 2016, FedNor and NOHFC have been provided with the following budgets to award small business funding:
- FedNor: $31 Million/ year; and
- NOHFC: $100 Million/ year.
Annually, NOHFC invests more than 3X more than the federal government does in northern Ontario. Increasing the amount of federal funding that is provided to FedNor will support job growth, drive business profitability, and retain skilled workers.
Northern Ontario Small Business Funding Programs
Business owners and executives in northern Ontario can support their business’ growth by receiving government grants and loans provided by FedNor and NOHFC.
FedNor: Canadian Government Funding for Northern Ontario
The Federal Economic Development Agency for Northern Ontario administers a variety of funding programs to strengthen the region’s communities through economic development and business expansion.
FedNor funding programs provide small business funding worth up to 33-50% of eligible project costs.
Ontario small business funding can be awarded through several FedNor programs, including:
- Economic Development Initiative (EDI): Supports business improvement and competitiveness projects in northern Ontario’s Francophone communities. Projects should increase export opportunities and drive tourism through the development of bilingual marketing materials and a digital presence.
- Northern Ontario Development Program (NODP): Often regarded as the most popular FedNor program, NODP offers funding for projects that support economic diversification, business competitiveness, and innovation. Projects should lead to sustainable growth in northern Ontario, including projects involving large-scale business investment and job creation.
- Targeted Manufacturing Initiative for Northern Ontario: Specifically for manufacturers in northern Ontario, FedNor funding supports purchasing new equipment, upgrading existing equipment, and training employees.
NOHFC: Provincial Investments to Support Growth & Development
The Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation is a not-for-profit organization that fosters business growth by investing provincial funding into strategic business expansion projects.
SMEs may be eligible to receive up to 50-75% of project costs through NOHFC northern Ontario government funding.
NOHFC encourages growth and development initiatives through multiple funding streams, including:
- Northern Business Opportunity Program: Supports startups and established businesses that are expanding their northern Ontario business through new capital investments;
- Northern Innovation Program: Supports the development and commercialization of new technologies by promoting the collaborative partnership of businesses, academic institutions, and research facilities;
- Northern Community Capacity Building Program: Allows municipalities and non-profits the opportunity to carry out infrastructure and business strategy projects;
- Strategic Economic Infrastructure Program: Supports projects that focus on capital investment through site redevelopment and information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure; and
- Northern Ontario Internship Program: Reduces the cost of hiring a recent post-secondary graduate. Businesses may receive up to $31,500 per new hire, which ultimately helps to retain skilled labour.
Access Northern Ontario Government Grants and Loans for Your Small Business
If any of the above programs apply to your business’ strategic direction, you may be eligible to receive northern Ontario government funding. A range of grants and loans may be used to offset capital and labour costs, however understanding your full range of options may be difficult.
To learn more about how much funding your business may be able to receive for northern Ontario business expansion, please contact Mentor Works.