Throughout Canada there are incentive programs aimed at stimulating economic development in specific regions where there is not a lot of industry. One such incentive program is the Southwestern Ontario Development Fund (SWODF) targeting the following 18 regions in South Western Ontario: Brant, Bruce, Chatham-Kent, Dufferin, Elgin, Essex, Grey, Haldimand, Huron, Lambton, Middlesex, Niagara, Norfolk, Oxford, Perth, Simcoe, Waterloo, Wellington.
Objectives of the SWODF
SWODF aims to:
- Create jobs in Southwestern Ontario
- Stimulate private sector investment in business enterprises in Southwestern Ontario
- Encourage the introduction of new, innovative approaches, including the use of new technologies, to companies
- Assist firms in improving their competitiveness, enhancing productivity, and pursuing growth
- Contribute to the diversification of the economy of Southwestern Ontario
Eligibility Requirements for SWODF:
In order to apply for the SWODF:
- Company must be a for profit business registered to carry out business in Ontario. (Note: Industry/Sectoral associations, municipalities, non-governmental organisations, and other public organisations may be eligible for funding under the SWODF Regional Stream).
- Company must be located in Southwestern Ontario or will be locating in Southwestern Ontario by the time the project starts.
- Company must have a minimum of three years of operating experience in an eligible industry/sector supported by three years of financial statements (audited financial statements are preferred). Companies should have a track record of sales of a product or service and are at a stage where they are expanding their product/service offerings.
Company must either
- Employ at least ten full-time equivalent employees at the time of the application. All employees must be issued a T4. OR
- Fit the requirements of the Small Community Pilot which has populations under 20,000. Eligible businesses must have five to ten full time employees
- Company must have all taxes in reasonably good standings including HST, payroll taxes and corporate taxes.
- What Types of Projects are Eligible SWODF
The following are examples of projects eligible for funding under the SWODF:
- New investment in new operations in Southwestern Ontario
- Investment in existing operations to improve competitiveness, productivity and pursue new markets or business expansions involving the introduction of new products or services (examples: new/modified offerings to the marketplace to better meet customer/client needs, entirely new product lines/mandates from within corporate group)
- Priority will be given to projects that lead to high value added, sustainable jobs; increased exports with a global focus; a highly skilled workforce; and a culture of innovation
- What Types of Projects are Ineligible for SWODF
- The following types of projects are not eligible for SWODF funding:
- Ongoing operations including maintenance and capital replacement
- Refinancing of existing business operations
- Acquisitions and buyouts
- Restructurings, or relocations to other jurisdictions within Ontario
SWODF Application Process
Projects are funded under SWODF to achieve job creation and investment objectives. As a result, your company should assess the prospects for achieving these objectives through your project:
- If your firm has 20 or more full time employees at the time of application, your project must result in the creation of at least ten net new full time employees by the end of the project.
- For firms with between 5 and 20 full time employees, your project must result in a 50% increase in the size of your workforce by the end of the project.
- It is strongly recommended that applicants check with SWODF staff to ensure potential eligibility before submitting an application to the fund. The steps in the application process are:
- Complete the eligibility checklist found at Ontario.ca/southwesternfund
- Discuss your project with one of the program contacts found at Ontario.ca/southwesternfund
- Complete the full application form found at Ontario.ca/southwesternfund
Up to 15% of eligible project costs to a maximum grant of $1.5 million.
Investments of more than $10 million that also create more than 50 new jobs may be eligible for a loan of up to $5 million.
Applications can be submitted to SWODF anytime and a decision will be made within 60 days of submitting an application.