New Intake Open for the Rural Economic Development (RED) Fund

On February 7, 2022, the Ontario provincial government will be launching a second intake for its Rural Economic Development (RED) Fund. This initiative was initially launched in 2019 to offer economic support to rural and Indigenous communities that are struggling with economic issues due to COVID-19. Since its launch, RED has allotted over $15.2 million to almost 300 economic development projects.

“Our government understands rural communities have been affected by COVID-19. This targeted RED intake focuses on initiatives that will attract new residents and workers to rural communities across the province, while also creating opportunities for youth, workers and job seekers, and supporting innovative initiatives that position local businesses on a successful path forward.”

– Lisa Thompson, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

The Rural Economic Development Fund is allotted via the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA). RED is designed to offer government funding support for rural communities by stimulating economic opportunities for local businesses, attracting skilled workers to rural areas with new jobs, and creating opportunities for youth in the workforce.

There are two streams of funding available through RED: the Economic Diversification and Competitiveness Stream and the Strategic Economic Infrastructure Stream.

The Economic Diversification and Competitiveness Stream

The Economic Diversification and Competitiveness Stream is focussed primarily on activities that promote economic development, marketing evaluation, and feasibility research.

Amount of Funding

Successful applicants for the Economic Diversification and Competitiveness Stream may receive up to 70% of eligible expenses for projects up to a maximum of $150,000 per application.

Eligible Applicants

Applicants may be eligible for this stream if they meet any of the following criteria:

  • Applicant is a municipality;
  • Applicant is a not-for-profit entity;
  • Applicant is an Ontario Indigenous community; or
  • Applicant is a Local Services Board.

To learn more about RED criteria, visit the Rural Economic Development Fund Program Page.

Eligible Activities

The Economic Diversification and Competitiveness Stream is focussed on the development of key economic growth activities such as:

  • Projects that remove barriers for local businesses;
  • Projects that may stimulate job new opportunities;
  • Activities that may attract outside investors;
  • Activities to attract and retain workers with skilled trades;
  • Initiatives to strengthen partnerships with sector and regional partners; and
  • Projects that may diversify regional economies in rural Ontario.

To learn more about this stream’s project criteria, visit the Rural Economic Development Fund Program Page.

Program Timelines

Funding for the Rural Economic Development Fund will be available starting February 7, 2022 and currently has no formal deadline, though applicants should apply before funding is fully committed.

To get started with the RED program, contact a Mentor Works professional today.

The Strategic Economic Infrastructure Stream

The Strategic Economic Infrastructure Stream is focused on revitalizing economic infrastructure. Applicants may receive up to $250,000 per application.

Amount of Funding

Successful applicants for the Strategic Economic Infrastructure Stream may receive up to 50% of eligible expenses for projects up to a maximum of $250,000 per application.

Eligible Applicants

Applicants may be eligible for the Rural Economic Development Fund if they meet any of the following criteria:

  • Applicant is a municipality;
  • Applicant is a not-for-profit entity;
  • Applicant is an Ontario Indigenous community; or
  • Applicant is a Local Services Board.

To learn more about RED criteria, visit the Rural Economic Development Fund Program Page.

Eligible Activities

Activities for the Strategic Economic Infrastructure Stream should be geared towards initiatives that will assist in revitalizing economic infrastructure such as:

  • Activities to revive cultural, heritage, or tourism buildings;
  • Projects that may redevelop vacant or underused properties; and
  • Projects to strengthen main street minor capital initiatives.

To see more about the Strategic Economic Infrastructure stream’s project criteria, visit the Rural Economic Development Fund Program Page.

Program Timelines

Funding for the Rural Economic Development Fund will be available starting February 7, 2022 and currently has no formal deadline, though applicants should apply before funding is fully committed.

Government Funding for Rural and Indigenous Communities

To submit an application for the RED program, contact a Mentor Works professional today.

These two Rural Economic Development Fund programs are offering promising financial help to Ontario rural and Indigenous communities. However, there may be alternative options available for Ontario municipalities. To learn more about these opportunities, visit Mentor Work’s government funding directory for municipalities page. Moreover, readers should subscribe to our government funding newsletter to stay up to date on top programs and Canadian government funding news.

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