Northern Business Opportunity Program - Small Business Start-up Projects

The Northern Business Opportunity Program supports the vision of the Growth Plan for Northern Ontario by encouraging business productivity and expansion, and global investment in northern communities. 

Who is Eligible?

New businesses in Northern Ontario that intend to commence operations in the following sectors identified and further described in the Growth Plan:

  • advanced manufacturing
  • agriculture, aquaculture and food processing
  • arts, culture and creative industries
  • digital economy
  • forestry and value-added forestry-related industries
  • health sciences
  • minerals sector and mining supply and services
  • renewable energy and services
  • tourism
  • transportation, aviation and aerospace
  • water technologies and services

Other business activities that, in the opinion of the NOHFC Board of Directors, will result in an economic development advantage for Northern Ontario will be considered.

What is Eligible?

Eligible project costs related to the start-up of a business that creates jobs in Northern Ontario include, but are not limited to:

  • leasehold improvements
  • new or used equipment
  • training costs incurred with third parties
  • information and communications technology investments including, but not limited to, software
  • marketing costs

What is Not Eligible?

Ineligible projects, costs and activities include but are not limited to:

  • retail and consumer service businesses and business activities that primarily earn revenue through providing products and services, outside of the sectors described  under “who is eligible”  and as defined by the NOHFC*
  • businesses that are primarily involved in wholesale activities
  • accommodation & food service businesses and business activities
  • professional services businesses and business activities
  • business plans
  • strategic plans
  • feasibility studies
  • research and development
  • land purchase/lease
  • rolling stock (e.g. cars & trucks)
  • project management costs
  • consulting costs
  • maintenance costs
  • administration costs
  • mineral exploration, mine development costs and milling operations 
  • working capital
  • inventory
  • information and communications technology service providers (e.g. cellular and internet service providers)
  • other ongoing operating costs
  • leasehold improvements to residential or personal properties
  • acquisitions and buy-outs of existing businesses
  • electricity generation projects

* The NOHFC will consider applications on a case-by-case basis where there is no other necessary service or business of this nature in the community or other extenuating circumstances.


  • Applicants are required to provide a minimum equity contribution in the amount of 15% of eligible project costs.
  • A proposed new business should not unreasonably impact existing Northern Ontario businesses.
  • A proposed new business should result in net economic benefits for Northern Ontario.
  • For a partnership, each partner must be a co-applicant. Total NOHFC assistance to a partnership normally will not exceed $200,000 per project.
  • A business plan will be required after eligibility has been determined.
  • The proposed new business will operate on a full-time basis and result in job creation in Northern Ontario. It is expected that the entrepreneur will work at the business on a full-time basis.
  • The entrepreneur will be required to reimburse the NOHFC if assets financed by the NOHFC are sold within the first three years of operation.


NOHFC assistance will be in the form of a conditional contribution and will generally not exceed 50% of eligible project costs up to a maximum of $200,000.

Not all projects meeting the program criteria outlined below will receive funding. Applications will be accepted under this program until March 31, 2017. This is subject to change without any prior notice.

How to Apply

Send completed application forms to:

Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation
70 Foster Drive, Suite 200
Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario
P6A 6V8
fax: 1-705-945-6701

For more information call our toll free line 1-800-461-8329.