Growing Forward 2 Ontario Business Expansion Grants: Application Guide for 2016

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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.

Government Business Expansion Grant Opportunities        

Foundational Data #1

The federal and provincial governments across Canada recognize the importance of supporting agriculture and agri-food businesses. According to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), Canada’s food and beverage industries contribute more than $100 billion in gross domestic product (GDP) annually. This production level ranks Canada as the world’s fifth largest agricultural exporter and provides employment to nearly 1 in 8 Canadians.

This global competitiveness is required if Canada wishes to remain a leader among developed nations. Canadian companies must be willing to invest in the agricultural sector, increase employment opportunities, and increase exports across the world.

Yet for many agricultural and agri-food businesses, especially those owned and operated by immigrants and entrepreneurs, growing can be difficult to do.




“How can you constantly invest more money into your company to become more productive, innovative, and ultimately more competitive?”

Ontario Government Funding for the Agriculture and Agri-Food Industry

Growing Forward 2 (GF2) Ontario is an Ontario government funding program aimed at supporting innovative projects led by agriculture and agri-food companies. Each year, nearly $4.5 million is provided to solve industry challenges and enhance business competitiveness.

Through these small business grants, businesses can access Ontario government funding for a variety of business expansion projects such as:

  • Implementing new technologies that lead to productivity enhancements;
  • Performing strategic planning; and
  • Implementing new production processes.

This blog will help you to understand the benefits of using Growing Forward 2 Ontario and provide dates that your business must apply before to receive funding in 2016.

 Workers In Distribution Warehouse

Ideal Project Types for GF2 Ontario Business Funding

Growing Forward 2 Ontario supports projects that can be classified into one or more of the following six categories:

  1. Environment and climate change adaptation
  2. Productivity and labour enhancement
  3. Leadership and business development
  4. Plant and animal health
  5. Market development
  6. Assurance systems (including food safety, traceability, and animal welfare)

Growing Forward 2 Ontario: Small Business Funding Streams

When applying to the Growing Forward 2 Ontario program, agricultural businesses will need to define themselves as one of the following three classifications:

Agricultural Processors  IMG_8893

  • Business Function: Manufacture or transform agricultural commodities, foods, or beverages in Ontario
  • Funding Contribution: Up to 35-50% (opportunity assessment projects) and up to 35% of project implementation costs to a maximum of $350,000.

Muskoka BeekeeperAgricultural Producers

  • Business Function: Grow or produce agricultural commodities. Should have a valid Farm Business Registration Number.
  • Funding Contribution: Up to 35-50% (opportunity assessment projects) and up to 35% of project implementation costs to a maximum of $350,000.


Agricultural Organizations & Collaborations

  • Business Function: Applicants should either be a not-for-profit (NFP) organization or a collaboration between two or more businesses, NFPs, or academic institutions.
  • Funding Contribution: Up to 50-75% of eligible project costs (higher than the other two streams) to a lifetime program maximum of $350,000.

An example may be…….

Golden Horseshoe Food and Farming Alliance logo

Growing Forward 2 Ontario Small Business Funding 2016 Deadlines

The Growing Forward 2 Ontario program is a government grant which businesses need to apply for. Ontario companies may apply to the program during several dates (known as intake periods) throughout the year to be considered for project funding. The upcoming dates for 2016 are:

Processors Stream:

  1. June 23 – July 14, 2016
  2. October 14 – November 3, 2016

Producers Stream:

  1. June 17 – July 7, 2016
  2. October 14 – November 3, 2016

Organizations & Collaborations:

  1. July 14, 2016
  2. October 13, 2016

Please Note: Applications for the Growing Forward 2 Ontario program are multi-staged – this requires businesses to submit a project proposal before their full application. The intake dates (above) are for full applications, therefore businesses should send their stage-1 application for approval 2-3 weeks prior to the intake period is over.

How to Get Started with Your Growing Forward 2 Ontario Application

bigstock-Group-of-business-people-in-a--47704075Applying to Canadian government funding programs can be a complicated and time-consuming process for most entrepreneurs. If you choose to apply for Growing Forward 2 Ontario, there are several ways to learn more and get started.

Mentor Works offers an extensive library of educational resources about the funding process. GF2 Ontario applicants would be most interested in our Comparing Funding Types info sheet and When to Apply for Funding slides as an introduction to grants and other funding programs.

Alternately, Mentor Works also supports the government funding application process and can help your business prepare a winning Growing Forward 2 application. If you would like to engage our talents, feel free to contact Mentor Works and one of our Government Funding Experts will be able to evaluate your business and project’s funding potential.

Jeff Shepherd Mentor WorksJeff 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

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