Today’s guest blog post comes from Mentor Works, a business support enterprise specializing in accessing government funding. Author Jeff Shepherd describes business expansion grants that may be of interest to your business.
Research by REAPontario and others indicates that many immigrant entrepreneurs work long hours, have little time to explore potential business supports, and often struggle to find capital to expand their businesses. They may be hesitant to utilize government supports and to take on debt. Mentor Works is one of many resources that may be of assistance.
Ontario food growers and processors create some of the highest quality products available on the market. Despite this, many consumers are consuming food grown or prepared by companies located outside of the province. If these consumers purchased Ontario products instead of foods from elsewhere, the agriculture and agri-food industries would grow at an increased rate and provide new revenue opportunities.
From grocery shoppers, to food service agencies, to government departments, all consumers should be closely evaluating their options and purchasing locally grown or prepared food.
Photo ACFOLA Annual Gathering, London, Ontario
Rural and immigrant ag entrepreneurs play a part
Rural and immigrant entrepreneurs in the agriculture or agri-food industry also have a part to play in this. Businesses should be looking into ways to better serve the needs of Ontario consumers, providing them with local options for the types of products that they would otherwise import from other provinces or countries. Companies should also promote their products as locally-grown or provide public education on the benefits of buying local.
The Greenbelt Fund is an Ontario-based a not-for-profit organization that promotes increased consumption of locally grown and processed food. They also administer government funding for agribusiness, not-for-profits, municipalities, and food services through the Local Food Investment Fund.
“Greenbelt Fund grants may provide up to 50% of expenses for projects that increase awareness and consumption of local food.”
“The Local Food Investment Fund’s current call for applications will conclude on September 12, 2016. Interested agribusinesses should consider beginning the application process as soon as possible.”
Greenbelt Fund – Ways Your Business Can Access Funding
The Local Food Investment Fund improves Ontario’s agricultural industry through three unique ways:
- Ensuring that the government and public sector organizations are purchasing local food
- Improving agricultural business’ ability to fill consumer demand for products
- Enhancing local food literacy among Ontario consumers
Ontario food producers and processors may be able to receive up to 50% of expenses for a variety of projects. This includes:
Rural Ontario agribusinesses may receive Greenbelt funding for projects that involve:
- Conducting market research to better understand consumer food preferences;
- Implementing new food processing techniques such as washing, canning, freezing or dehydrating; and
- Value chain business planning between local food processors, food hubs, and aggregators.
Local Food Literacy Projects
Ontario food businesses may also receive up to 50% of project expenses for:
- Delivering local food education or training including classes, preparation facility education, or farm visits;
- Organizing local food events or competitions that promote the benefits of consuming locally-grown food; and
- Developing and producing education/training materials, promotional materials, and sales resources.
Does your Business Qualify for the Greenbelt Fund?
To qualify for Greenbelt Fund business grants, please ensure that your organization is:
- * A member of the private sector or a not-for-profit;
- * Able to contribute a minimum of 50% of the project expenses in cash;
- * Able to execute the proposed project; and
- * Willing to enter a formal written agreement with the Greenbelt Fund.
How to Apply for Greenbelt Fund Local Food Investment Grants
The next deadline for Local Food Investment Fund is September 12, 2016.
Applications require the submission of financial statements and a comprehensive evaluation of how the project will increase local food consumption. For rural or immigrant entrepreneurs, it often greatly helps your chances of success if you consult a Canadian Government Funding Planner through the process.
If your business or non-profit organization has questions regarding program eligibility, or would like to request assistance for the application process, please contact a Government Funding Planner from Mentor Works.
Jeff Shepherd obtained his Honours Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Guelph-Humber. He has combined his passion for marketing and economic development in his role of Marketing Analyst at Mentor Works, a business support organization specializing in Canadian government funding. This Ontario-based business has helped hundreds of businesses build and execute their funding strategy through a mix of federal and provincial government grants, loans, and tax credits. Mentor Works offers free online resources, funding webinars, and news via www.mentorworks.ca.