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Regional Development Program: Southwestern Ontario Development Fund

UPDATE: Due to recent events, application deadline and notification dates have been extended to assist applicants in meeting the timelines.



The Regional Development Program takes a coordinated approach to supporting business growth in eastern and southwestern Ontario. The program supports eligible small- and medium-sized businesses investing in new equipment and training to expand operations in these regions, and also provides support to municipalities and not-for-profit organizations investing in economic development projects. Eligible applicants may receive financial support and advisory services to help navigate other government programs, such as guidance on compliance approvals, assistance with skills and talent, and information regarding Ontario’s corporate tax credits.

How it works

The Southwestern Ontario Development Fund provides support for projects and investments to businesses, municipalities and not-for-profit organizations for economic development in southwestern Ontario.

The types of support available include:

• funding support

• complementary services and support

The fund supports projects that:

• create jobs and build talent

• attract and encourage private sector investment

• lead to business growth and broad positive economic impacts

• encourage innovation, collaboration and cluster development

The geographic area

Southwestern Ontario includes the following 18 geographic areas:

Southwestern Ontario includes the following 18 geographic areas:

    • Brant

    • Bruce

    • Chatham-Kent

    • Dufferin

    • Elgin

    • Essex

    • Grey

    • Haldimand

    • Huron

    • Lambton

    • Middlesex

    • Niagara

    • Norfolk

    • Oxford

    • Perth

    • Simcoe

    • Waterloo

    • Wellington

Types of support


Business Projects
Funding amount
Up to 15% of eligible project costs.

Up to 15% funding to a maximum of $5M, interest free during the project period (up to 4 years). If you achieve your investment and job targets, up to 30% of the loan (to a maximum of $500,000) may be forgiven.

Grants are available only for specific circumstances, up to 15% to a maximum:

    • Of $500,000 if your company has fewer than 100 employees and is based in rural Ontario (population of your community is less than 100,000 or population density is less than 100 people per square kilometre)

    • Of $1,500,000 for strategic projects that are foreign direct investments or from companies competing against other jurisdictions (in limited circumstances)

You are not allowed to combine (or “stack”) Southwestern Ontario Development funding with other provincial programs.

Community Economic Development projects
Funding amount
Up to 50% of eligible project costs for a maximum grant of up to $1.5 million.

You are not allowed to combine (or “stack”) Southwestern Ontario Development funding with other provincial programs.

Complementary Services and Support

Complementary Services and Supports are available when you submit a complete application to the Eastern Ontario Development Fund or Southwestern Ontario Development Fund through the Regional Development Program. These services are available for the duration of your project regardless of the funding outcome. Services will be coordinated by working with partner ministries until they are delivered, closed-out or finalized.

Business projects
Businesses may be eligible for other assistance related to advisory services, assistance with environmental compliance approvals, assistance in accessing skills and talent and information related to leveraging available tax credits.

Community economic development projects
Applicants may be eligible for other assistance related to advisory services and navigation support for land-use planning and workforce development.

Sudden economic downturn

If your municipality is dealing with a sudden economic downturn like a major plant closure, we may be able to provide support to help your community implement a response strategy. This includes municipalities all across Ontario. Contact us to discuss your proposed project.

Please note that the proposed project should not be eligible for funding under other provincial programs.


Eligibility checklists can be submitted at any time.

There are four application intake periods per year for full applications. Applicants will be notified of decisions within 60 business days of the application deadline.

Application periods:

Application periods:

Application Periods

Accepting Applications

Application Deadline Dates

Application Assessment Periods (60 business days)

Notification Date (last day to notify applicants)

Application Period 1 2019-20

Application period ending January 20, 2020 is now closed.  Applicants with complete applications will be notified of a decision by April 16, 2020.

    Application Period 2 2020-21

    EXTENDED DEADLINE March 5, 2020-May 29, 2020

    May 29, 2020

    EXTENDED June 1, 2020 – August 25, 2020

    EXTENDED August 25, 2020

    Application Period 3 2020-21

    July 16, 2020-August 28, 2020

    August 28, 2020

    August 31, 2020-November 26, 2020

    November 26, 2020

    Application Period 4 2020-21

    October 19, 2020 – December 1, 2020

    December 1, 2020

    December 2, 2020–March 2, 2021

March 2, 2021

    Application Period 5 2020-21

    January 20, 2021 –March 4, 2021

    March 4, 2021

    March 5, 2021 – June 2, 2021

    June 2, 2021

Eligibility Requirements

The fund supports business and community economic development projects.

Business projects

To be eligible, businesses need to:

    • have at least 3 years of operations/financial statements

    • employ at least 10 people (or 5 if you are in rural Ontario)

    • commit to creating at least 5 new jobs (or 30% increase for companies with fewer than 15 employees)

    • invest at least $500,000 in their project (or $200,000 if you are in rural Ontario)

    • be located in, or plan to locate in, a community in southwestern Ontario

Community economic development projects

To be eligible, projects need to:

    • be led by municipalities, economic development organizations or sector organizations

    • focus on economic and business development and job creation in the community or region by investing in infrastructure or implementing strategies to advance regional economic development priorities

    • lead to measurable outcomes including private sector investment, growth and job creation

    • invest more than $100,000

    • have private sector support

    • be used for activities that are new to the organization

How to apply

Step 1: Contact a regional advisor for help with your application.

Step 2: Register for Transfer Payment Ontario.

Step 3: Submit an eligibility checklist. Staff will confirm whether your project is eligible.

Step 4: Once you know you are eligible, working with your regional advisor, complete the application forms and submit along with the required information.

Application forms and guidebook are available below.

Selection process

Successful projects need to:

    • align with the fund’s goals of investment attraction and job creation

    • provide economic benefits (create jobs, contribute to the region or develop the sector)

    • be achievable (i.e. applicants need to have the necessary financing, project management structure and experience to implement the project)

The first step in the application process is to speak with a Regional Advisor who can help you complete and submit the checklist. Please refer to the “Contact” section below for more information.

Eligibility Checklists are accepted on a continuous basis and should be submitted well in advance of the intake round deadlines or the project.

Program Documents


For advice on developing and strengthening your application, you are invited to contact your regional advisor or our Business Advsiory Services:

Business Advisory Services - Western Region Main Office

Toll-free: 1-800-267-6592 ext.224
Business Advisory Services - Central Region Main Office

Toll-free: 1-800-267-6592 ext.224


For more information, please contact us at: swodf@ontario.ca

Last updated: April 17, 2020