Greg Rickford said Northern Ontario’s small-business owners can stay tuned for a renewed Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corp. (NOHFC) in late fall or early winter.
Rickford, the province’s minister of energy, Northern development and mines, and minister of Indigenous affairs, shared the news during a Sept. 14 town hall with Premier Doug Ford and Vic Fedeli, minister of economic development, job creation, and trade, hosted by the Northern Ontario Chambers of Commerce.
Rickford said the province relied on feedback from municipal leaders, major industry, small-business owners, and Northern Ontario Caucus members in revamping the 32-year-old program.
The newly adjusted NOHFC program will be complemented by a Northern Ontario Economic Recovery Program, Rickford said, which would begin “almost immediately,” and run through the fall and early winter.
“During that window, we will be targetting small businesses particularly affected by COVID,” Rickford said.
“There'll be threshold evaluations on the economic impact to their businesses and, when and where appropriate, a grant format for them to carry on with some of the projects they would have otherwise done had they not been hit by COVID.”
Rickford declined to offer further details about the program, noting they would be “forthcoming when I make the announcement.”
However, he did suggest the new funding would benefit “tourist operators and businesses in that supply chain,” although the fund would be made available to all small businesses in the North.
Launched in 1988, the NOHFC’s mandate is to “promote and stimulate economic development initiatives in Northern Ontario by providing financial assistance to projects that stabilize, diversify and foster the economic growth and diversification of the region.”