Southwestern Ontario Development Fund (SWODF)

Program Responsibility:

Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation (MEDI)

What is it?

The Southwestern Ontario Economic Development Fund is a fund designed to help businesses create new jobs, and invest in new technologies, equipment or skills training for workers. It will also support economic development projects that will attract or retain investment in Ontario-based industries and communities.

For the purposes of the SWODF program, "Southwestern Ontario" is defined as the following 17 geographic areas under the Territorial Divisions Act, 2002: Brant, Bruce, Chatham-Kent, Dufferin, Elgin, Essex, Grey, Haldimand, Huron, Lambton, Middlesex, Niagara, Norfolk, Oxford, Perth, Waterloo, Wellington.

What is the benefit to your company?

The fund is a discretionary, non-entitlement program with limited funding. There are two funding streams, one for established businesses and a regional stream for economic development organizations including municipalities.

Under the business stream, the fund may provide up to 15% of eligible project costs to a maximum grant of $1.5 million. For project investments of $10+ million that create 50+ jobs, funding may be available in the form of a secured repayable loan, to a maximum of $5 million in provincial support.

Under the regional stream, the fund may provide up to 50% of eligible project costs to a maximum grant of $1.5 million.

Stacking with other provincial programs is not permitted under either funding streams.

Eligibility Summary

In order to be eligible for the business stream, businesses must:

  • Employ at least 10 people and meet minimum job creation thresholds as outlined in the Business Application Guide
  • Be able to provide 3 years of financial statements
  • Be part of an eligible sector
  • Be located in, or plan to locate in Southwestern Ontario
  • Have a multi year project that involves a minimum investment of $500,000 in eligible project costs.
  • Businesses with 5-10 employees may be eligible under the Small Community Pilot.

Projects considered for the regional stream must:

  • Be focused on economic and business development and job creation initiatives in the community/region
  • Align with provincial and regional priorities
  • Have a multi year project that involves a minimum investment of $100,000
  • Be used for activities that are new or incremental to the organization.

For a full list of eligibility requirements (including eligible costs) refer to the Application Guide (Business or Regional) or contact a regional staff person.

Applications are accepted on a continuous intake basis.

How to apply?

All applicants are encouraged to start by contacting a regional staff person for guidance in developing their application.

Applicants must complete and submit an Eligibility Checklist. This provides the ministry with an opportunity to get back to you to confirm the eligibility of your organization and project.

Once deemed eligible, refer to the Application Guidebook and complete the full application forms.

Projects are assessed on:

  • Alignment with the fund's goals
  • Economic benefits - jobs, contribution to region or building the sector
  • Capacity to be implemented - financing, project management structure, experience undertaking projects, etc.

Where can I find more information?

For more information about the Southwestern Ontario Development Fund including criteria, eligibility, application forms and program contacts, please contact:
Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation
Regional Economic Development and Co-ordination Branch
Phone: 519-873-4486
Toll Free: 800-265-4743
Fax: 519-873-4488
Exeter Road Complex
Lower Level
659 Exeter Rd
London ON N6E 1L3

We're here to help!

To find out how the Business Development Branch at OMAFRA can provide you with knowledge, connections and resources to help you grow your business, call toll-free at 1 888-466-2372 ext 63486 or