Ontario Rural Economic Development Funding: Apply by February 1, 2021

Ontario Rural Economic Development Grants: Apply by Sept. 9

UPDATE: The RED Program is currently accepting applications until February 1, 2021.

The Rural Economic Development (RED) program has announced the re-opening of an application intake period for Economic Diversification and Competitiveness projects and Strategic Economic Infrastructure projects.

The next intake deadline for Ontario’s Rural Economic Development funding program is February 1, 2021.

Administered by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), the Rural Economic Development (RED) program is a grant created to support non-profit and municipal activities that create strong rural communities in Ontario and open doors to rural economic development.

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.

Through the Rural Economic Development program, applicants may receive up to 50% of eligible project costs to a maximum $250,000 in Ontario government grants.

RED provides funding for municipalities and non-profits for the planning and implementation of economic development projects. These 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.

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 ≤100 people/km2;
  • 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:

Economic Diversification and Competitiveness

These are projects that remove barriers to job growth and attract investment. Examples include:

  • Downtown revitalization;
  • Entrepreneurship/business succession;
  • Business retention and expansion;
  • Service delivery improvement;
  • Technology adoption/innovation initiatives;
  • Skills training and development; and
  • Attraction and retention of workers/immigrants/youth.

Strategic Economic Infrastructure

These are projects that advance economic development and investment opportunities. Examples include:

  • Redevelopment of vacant and/or underutilized buildings;
  • Rehabilitation of cultural, heritage, or tourism attraction; and
  • Streetscaping and landscaping.

How to Apply for the Rural Economic Development Program

RED’s current application intake period will close on February 1, 2021. 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.

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.

Funding Funding Now, Contact Mentor Works

Updated: December 14, 2020 


  1. Hello my name is Deedrea Johnston I am from Saugeen First Nation near Lake Huron just locating funding resources available to my community to follow through with our tourism and community development projects thank you for your website its amazing

    1. Hello Deedra,

      Thank you for your feedback. As it turns out there is some new tourism funding available. I think it is a wonderful idea for you to connect with a member of our team to explore this in more detail together. Please fill out a contact form on our website here. I can’t wait to see what we can do together!

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