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Southwestern Ontario Development Fund


Southwestern Ontario Development Fund

How to get support to expand your business or attract business to your community in southwestern Ontario.

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

The fund supports projects that:

    • create jobs

    • encourage innovation, collaboration and cluster development

    • attract private sector investment

The geographic area

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


How to apply

Step 1: contact a MEDJCT Senior Business Advisor or Ministry regional staff person for help with your application.

Step 2: submit an eligibility checklist and staff will confirm that your project is eligible (mandatory)

Step 3: once you know you are eligible, complete the application forms.

Applications are accepted on an ongoing basis.

Eligibility Requirements

Who is eligible

Two types of funding are available through the fund: business and regional.


To be eligible for the business stream, businesses need to:

    • employ at least 10 people

    • commit to creating at least 10 new jobs

    • be able to provide 3 years of operations/financial statements

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

    • invest at least $500,000 in their project

Small Community Program

Businesses with 5-10 employees located in small communities may be eligible for funding from the Small Community Program.

A “small community” is a municipality with a population less than 20,000 or with a population density of less than 100 persons per square kilometre. 

Projects need:

    • a minimum investment of $200,000 over 4 years

    • a 50% increase in current employment


To be eligible for the regional stream, projects need to:

    • focus on economic and business development and job creation in the community or region

    • align with provincial and regional priorities, e.g., introducing new forms of innovation, taking part in province-led economic development initiatives

    • invest more than $100,000

    • have private sector support

    • be used for activities that are new to the organization

    • only municipalities, economic development organizations and aboriginal communities are eligible for the Regional Stream. If you are a business refer to the business stream.

Business Stream and Regional Stream Eligible projects

Projects in these sectors are eligible for funding:

    • advanced manufacturing (automotive, aerospace, plastics, clean technologies)

    • life sciences

    • processing (primary and secondary)

    • information and communication technology

    • tourism

    • cultural industries

Eligibility Checklist

The first step in the application process is the checklist. Complete the checklist first and submit it to the Southwestern Ontario Development Fund office. After your checklist is reviewed, a staff member will contact you. He or she will work with you on the next step: the full application form.

Funding amounts

Business stream

Funding amount: up to 15% of eligible project costs for 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.

Successful applicants: you will need to contribute at least 50% of total costs from your own resources or through private financing.

Regional stream

Funding amount: up to 50% of eligible project costs for a maximum grant of up to $1.5 million.

Successful applicants: you will need to contribute at least 35% of total costs from your own resources or through private financing.

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

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)

Ontario endeavours to assess and make a decision regarding your application within 60 business days of confirming receipt of a fully complete application package.

Program Guidelines


Regional advice desks
For advice on developing and strengthening your application, you are encouraged to contact our regional office at:

Business Advisory Services - Western Region Main Office
Email: WesternRegionBAS@ontario.ca
Phone: (519) 873-4480
Toll Free: 1-800-265-4743

Business Advisory Services - Central Region Main Office
Email: CentralRegionBAS@ontario.ca
Phone: (416) 235-4278
Toll Free: 1-877-449-4748

For more information, please contact us at:

Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade
Funding Administration Branch
Email: swodf@ontario.ca

Last updated: October 5, 2018