Small and medium-sized businesses in southern Ontario looking to develop new technologies or get products to market can apply for up to $500,000 in federal funding through a new program sponsored by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario.
Federal Minister of State Gary Goodyear visited Enterprise Brant on Wednesday to unveil the Southern Ontario Fund for Investment in Innovation, a $20 million program projected to give loans to 80 businesses, charities and post-secondary institutions over a two-year period.
“Innovation is critical to creating high-value jobs and securing a prosperous future for southern Ontario communities,” Goodyear said. “The investment announced today will lead to new opportunities for small and medium-sized businesses in the region, allowing them to grow (and) develop new products, services and technologies.”
The funds will be administered by southern Ontario’s two Community Futures Development Corporations, with the overall amount split into a $12-million fund in the west and a $8-million fund in the east.
Each loan will be individually negotiated, meaning recipients can potentially use the money over several fiscal years to fund longer-term initiatives.
Proof of job creation – a main pillar of the government’s economic action plan – will help an applicant’s chances of securing a loan, Goodyear said, as will demonstrating that a project will add to the region’s economic diversity and improve Ontario’s “global competitiveness” in the knowledge economy.
The recession demonstrated the need to have a targeted approach to job creation and economic development, said Brant MP Phil McColeman.
“We all take pride in the work we do because it comes down to creating opportunities for individuals, businesses and communities,” McColeman said.
Prior to the new fund, the maximum companies could apply for from the non-profit Community Futures Development Corporations was $150,000. Being able to access up to $500,000 will give companies on the cusp of implementing a new technology or process a significant boost, Goodyear said.
“(This) fills a need that we hear from businesses as they grow a little more,” he said. “In some cases, they need additional funding that is not available from the traditional sources.”