What Is a Regional Development Agency (RDA)?

Canada is a sprawling and diverse country with the second largest landmass in the world. As a nation, Canada has collective goals, however its individual regions have their own unique needs and focus areas. Each region plays a vital role in the success of Canada on the global stage by participating in key industries such as agriculture, manufacturing, and technology. Regions can also differ based on their characteristics, such as inhabitants’ culture, the land’s terrain, access to natural resources, talent and educational hubs, and their access to key trade routes. To cater support to each of these regions’ challenges and opportunities, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISEDC) creates and manages Regional Development Agencies (RDAs). RDAs act as distributors of government support services, such as grants and loans.

“We understand that the path to economic prosperity varies from region to region. Strong regional economies are essential for Canada’s success and sustainability. That’s why our regional development agencies are there to help businesses and innovators grow, succeed and create good jobs for Canadians. Together, we will overcome the challenges of today and ensure all regions of Canada realize their full economic potential. We have your back.”

-The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages

RDAs play a significant role in the lives of Canadians from coast to coast. However, there are many Canadians that don’t know just how much they impact their daily lives, directly or indirectly.

What Are Canada’s Regional Development Agencies?

Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) serve the Canadian people by working with businesses, innovators, and other key stakeholders in their corresponding regions. The nature of this work is to provide support programs that caters to their specific regional, economic, and industry challenges. This often includes the creation of jobs, encouraging innovation, and foreign direct investment into the region to ensure a robust economy for years to come. RDAs have also proved helpful in tackling unique challenges by creating programs to businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have increased the funding by $60 million and that helps businesses of all sizes, communities, First Nations and not-for-profits tremendously as the country moves out of the pandemic.”

-Terry Sheehan, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister responsible for FedNor

There were six RDAs in Canada until August 2021, when FedNor became an official RDA for Northern Ontario. Canada currently has seven RDA’s:

Although all RDAs have the same fundamental purpose of supporting the Canadian economy, each region of this country is different and therefore, RDAs may vary in their offerings to local constituents.

What Do RDAs Offer Canadians?

There are many grant and loan programs in Canada that have been facilitated through federal government funding. Below are some key programs that have been provided, for regional constituents, to support community infrastructure, aerospace innovation, and broadband access for remote municipalities:

The Canada Community Revitalization Fund (CCRF)

The Canada Community Revitalization Fund (CCRF) was implemented by ISEDC and is available to a variety of RDAs. CCRF is designed to support communities that have been hit hard by the pandemic with a two-year, $500 million investment in national infrastructure funding.

“We have helped put small- and medium-sized businesses on the road to recovery. Now it’s time to invest in the shared public spaces that will safely bring people together and help communities grow and thrive well into the future.”

-The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages

Communal areas, such as farmers’ markets, parks and community centres play a key role in bringing Canadians closer. The CCRF program has helped keep communal hubs alive during the pandemic and positioned local communities to come out stronger than before.

The Aerospace Regional Recovery Initiative (ARRI)

The Aerospace Regional Recovery Initiative (ARRI) supports Canada’s aerospace sector with regaining the crucial capacity for strong economic growth after the COVID-19 pandemic. This initiative maintains a focus on cleantech innovation and jobs creation projects within the aerospace sector.

“When we foster innovation in Canadian industries, we help them stay globally competitive, we create good middle class jobs, and we fuel our green recovery. The aerospace industry is undergoing a profound transformation and is accelerating the green shift it embarked on over the past few decades, which will allow it to maintain its highly sought-after ecosystem of world-class talent. As we accelerate our transition to a clean‑growth economy, the Government of Canada will continue to make smart, strategic investments that support job creation and help us build a cleaner future for all Canadians.”
-The Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

Canadian aerospace businesses have been helped through the trials and tribulations of the COVID-19 Pandemic. RDA support is providing necessary businesses and organizations with capacity to compete on the global aerospace stage.

The Universal Broadband Fund (UBF)

Financing was allocated from the Universal Broadband Fund (UBF) to accelerate broadband infrastructure to rural and remote municipalities across Canada with a minimum benchmark of 50/10 megabits per second (Mbps).

“Having a reliable internet connection will help boost the economic prosperity of our communities and region. These projects in Nipissing are important steps forward in our government’s plan to connect every community in Ontario to high-speed internet by 2025.”

– The Honourable Vic Fedeli, Member of Provincial Parliament for Nipissing and Ontario’s Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation, and Trade

As a result of the UBF program, 145 First Nations homes have received broadband internet, connecting them to the exponentially growing online world. These are only a few examples of a larger list of government funding success stories in Canada.

It is also important to note that, though RDAs play a vital role in Canada’s economy, RDAs are not the only organizations that provide funding programs. There are many other programs offered by government-related and not-for-profit organizations that leverage strategic grant and loan programs such as:

Get A Smart Start to Government Funding

If you are interested in government funding, we recommend you review this comprehensive list of programs or browse the programs by region.When applying for one of these funding programs, please reach out to a Mentor Works representative if you have any questions or need help confirming your eligibility and completing the application process.

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