Update: In response to COVID-19, the second intake of SWODF has been extended to May 29, 2020.
The Southwestern Ontario Development Fund (SWODF) is a business expansion funding program that incentivizes companies to invest in new facilities and equipment. It attracts large-scale projects that have a significant impact on business productivity and create new employment opportunities within the company. Through the program, successful applicants will receive grants or a combination of grants and repayable funding (government loans) to offset project costs.
SWODF business investment funding provides up to 15% of project expenses to a maximum of $500k-$5M depending on whether businesses are applying for a grant or a loan.
To qualify for SWODF funding, Southwestern Ontario businesses must provide a minimum investment of $500,000, have at least 10 employees at the time of application, and commit to creating at least five jobs during the project. Other eligibility criteria apply; continue reading to learn if this business investment funding is suitable for your expansion plans.
To learn more about the SWODF Community Economic Development Stream for municipalities, economic development organizations, and business collaborations, click here.
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Program Overview: What is SWODF Funding?
The Southwestern Ontario Development Fund (SWODF) is one of the most popular Ontario government funding programs available to support large-scale business investments. Through the program, companies can receive grants and loans to minimize the impact of expansion on company cash flows. By providing additional capital to support projects, manufacturers and other targeted applicants can grow faster and respond to opportunities more effectively.
SWODF Capital Investment Funding
SWODF offers two types of funding support:
- Performance-Based Loan: Up to 15% of eligible project expenses to a maximum of $5 million.
- Conditional Grant: Up to 15% of eligible project expenses to a maximum of $500,000 for small and rural companies (less than 100 full-time employees (FTEs) in a municipality with less than 100,000 population).
- $1,500,000 for strategic projects that are foreign direct investments or from companies competing against other jurisdictions.
Applicant Eligibility Criteria
To qualify for the Southwestern Ontario Development Fund, applicants must:
- Have been in operation for at least 3 years;
- Commit to creating at least 5 new jobs (or 30% increase for companies with fewer than 15 employees);
- Have 10 or more FTEs or, if in a rural community, 5 FTEs;
- Be located in, or plan to locate in, a community in southwestern or eastern Ontario; and
- Have a project budget greater than $500,000 (or $200,000 if in a rural community).
What is SWODF’s Definition of Southwestern Ontario?
Applicant companies must ensure their business operates in Southwestern Ontario to qualify for SWODF. Eligible regions include:
- Waterloo; and
Project Eligibility Criteria
There are three types of projects that commonly receive Southwestern Ontario Development Fund grants and loans. Projects must start a minimum 60 days after submission and can have a duration of three to four years. They include:
- Invest in new operations in eastern or southwestern Ontario;
- Invest in operations that improve productivity, innovation, the potential to export goods,and competitiveness; and
- Create high-value, sustainable jobs in Ontario.
Expense Eligibility Criteria
The Southwestern Ontario Development Fund (SWODF) only accepts project costs that are one-time expenses essential to project completion. These may include:
- Project facilities & infrastructure – project facility modifications;
- Specialized expertise – third-party engineering services;
- Materials – materials for configurations and testing;
- Equipment and machinery – CNC machines, robots, etc.;
- Labour – set up/commissioning of new equipment, incremental R&D for a max of two years;
- Training and talent costs – employer-provided training (trainer hours are eligible), training infrastructure; and
- Permits and fees – building permits.
Additional SWODF Funding Resources
- SWODF/EODF Business Stream New Intake Deadlines: New 2019-2020 intake periods have been announced for the Business Stream. Prepare your applications.
- SWODF/EODF Community Economic Development Stream New Intake Deadlines: New 2019-2020 intake periods have been announced for the Community Economic Development Stream. Prepare your applications.
How to Apply for the Southwestern Ontario Development Fund
To access SWODF funding, eligible Ontario-based businesses must complete a three-stage application process which includes:
- Completing an eligibility checklist to ensure suitability for the SWODF program;
- Discussing the proposed project with a SWODF representative; and
- Submitting a full application
Since SWODF maintains an open intake of applications, businesses that have a qualified project may submit a funding proposal anytime throughout the year. It’s often best to submit applications a minimum of 4-6 months ahead of the project’s anticipated start date to ensure adequate time for application review. Upon application approval, applicants can begin incurring funding-eligible expenses.
SWODF has announced four application periods, so businesses should prepare well in advance of funding intakes to make the most of their upcoming strategic growth projects. The deadlines are as follows:
- Application Period Two: March 5, 2020 – May 29, 2020
- Application Period Three: June 5, 2020 – July 20, 2020
- Application Period Four: September 3, 2020 – October 19, 2020
Discuss Upcoming Expansion Projects
Considering how SWODF can support your upcoming project? Contact Mentor Works to evaluate whether your project is a good fit. Our team can help you align your upcoming project for SWODF funding and streamline the application process with time-saving info collection documents and a dedicated team of writers.
Posted: October 31, 2012. Updated: April 28, 2020.