Apply for Ontario Rural Economic Development Grants

Following a provincial review earlier in 2019, the Rural Economic Development (RED) funding program has announced it will re-open its application intake period. Some changes to the program are expected but have yet to be announced aside from the launch of two new streams of funding. Included in these new streams is funding for Economic Diversification and Competitiveness projects and funding for Strategic Economic Infrastructure projects.

The next application intake for Ontario’s Rural Economic Development funding program is expected to open on July 29, 2019 and stay open for approximately two months.

Economic developers and municipalities should start preparing projects in advance of this summer application intake period. Since funding may be more limited than in previous years ($5 million has been allocated to RED for the 2019-2020 fiscal year), it may be depleted more quickly. Organizations should focus on applying early during the application period and ensure their application speaks directly to the program’s evaluation criteria.

What is the Ontario Rural Economic Development Program?

The Rural Economic Development (RED) program is an Ontario government grant that supports economic developers and municipalities. Eligible applicants can access funding to strengthen rural Ontario’s business landscape through targeted activities aimed at removing economic barriers, attracting business investment, and diversifying economic interests. Although changes to the program will re-shape how the program operates in 2019, these fundamental traits of the program will remain intact.

Previously, RED supported projects by offsetting up to 50% of eligible expenses to a maximum $100,000. It’s unclear if funding contribution rates will change for the coming re-launch.

So far, Ontario’s provincial government has announced that the program will offer two new streams of funding. It seems like these will replace/simplify the previous project categories with all new projects applying for either:

  1. Economic Diversification and Competitiveness: Projects that remove barriers to job growth and attract investment; and
  2. Strategic Economic Infrastructure: Projects that advance economic development and investment opportunities.

Applicants Eligible for RED Economic Development Grants

To access Ontario Rural Economic Development grants, applicants must:

  • Be a non-profit entity, municipality, local services board, or an Indigenous community;
  • Target “rural Ontario” communities with a population of 100,000 or less;
  • Have authority to enter into a legal agreement; and
  • Comply with legal requirements throughout the project.

Projects Eligible for Rural Development Funding

There are two broad categories of projects that are accepted for Rural Economic Development funding. They include:

  1. Economic Diversification and Competitiveness: Projects that remove barriers to job growth and attract investment; and
  2. Strategic Economic Infrastructure: Projects that advance economic development and investment opportunities.

While full details have not been announced yet to explain these two streams, it’s likely that they will offer similar support to previous rounds of RED funding. In the past, applicants could apply for:

  1. Planning Projects: Supports plans and strategies, and applied research and analysis to support planning and priority-setting.
  2. Implementation Projects: Supports sector development and economic diversification, marketing, promotional and branding activities, and workforce attraction, retention, and development.

How to Apply for the Rural Economic Development Program

Like previous rounds of the Rural Economic Development program, application intake will open for a roughly two-month window. During this time, applicants are encouraged to submit a detailed application package that reviews the proposed project, its expenses, and benefits to Ontario’s business community. Only the most competitive projects with significant benefits and modest requests for funding are chosen to proceed.

RED’s upcoming application intake period will be available starting on July 29, 2019.

Since RED economic development funding is changing this year and the July 29 intake will be the first under new program rules, it’s advised that potential applicants wait for all official program details to be announced prior to developing an application. This will help ensure your project is eligible and your organization completes the application process correctly.

To keep up-to-date on RED program changes, discuss your economic development project, and discover how to optimize the application process, please contact Mentor Works.

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Written by

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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