The Southwestern Ontario Development Fund (SWODF) offers up to $5 million in grants and interest-free loans to support investments that lead to job creation and economic growth. Eligible expenditures include, but are not limited to, equipment, consulting services, facility retrofits and expansions, as well as employee training and other project-related costs incurred over a two to four-year period.
Businesses must be, or planning to be located in a Southwestern Ontario county i.e. Brant, Bruce, Chatham-Kent, Dufferin, Elgin, Essex, Grey, Haldimand, Huron, Lambton, Middlesex, Niagara, Norfolk, Oxford, Perth, Simcoe, Waterloo and Wellington. Additionally, applicants are required to have 3 years of financial statements and represent one of the following sectors: manufacturing, processing, information or communication technology, life sciences, tourism or the cultural industry.
Investments under $10 million are eligible for grants of 15% up to $1.5 million. Investments over $10 million that lead to the creation of at least 50 jobs are eligible for grants of up to $1.5 million, plus interest free loans of up to $3.5 million for a maximum of 4 years.
Applicants located in Southwestern Ontario municipalities with populations that exceed 20,000, or have more than 100 persons per square kilometer, must invest a minimum of $500,000, have at least 10 employees, and commit to creating no less than 10 jobs. Companies located in smaller communities with 5-10 employees are required to invest a minimum of $200,000, and increase their workforce by 50%.
Costs associated with business acquisitions, debt financing, ongoing operational costs, construction as well as vehicle and land purchases are not eligible for funding.