Rural Economic Development Program - Supporting our Rural Communities

Ontario's Rural Economic Development (RED) program helps rural communities remove barriers to community economic development.

With the support of the program, rural communities are better positioned to attract investment, create jobs, enhance economic growth and make everyday life easier for rural Ontarians.

The RED program supports the government's plan to create jobs, grow our economy and help people in their everyday lives by:

  • Helping remove barriers to economic development for rural communities, Indigenous communities and organizations, and not-for-profit organizations.
  • Helping rural communities identify their economic strengths and develop strategies to attract business and investment which will help retain and create jobs.
  • Helping rural communities and partners to be in a more competitive economic position so that they can diversify and grow their local economies - making economic growth more inclusive so that Ontario's growing economy delivers real benefits to rural Ontario.

Who can apply?

The RED program provides cost-share funding to rural communities, Indigenous communities and organizations, and not-for-profit organizations.

The objective of the RED program is to support:

  • Evidence-based planning projects
  • Implementation of projects that contribute to economic competitiveness

For the purposes of the RED program, rural Ontario is defined by Statistics Canada's census subdivisions (including lower-tier and single-tier municipalities) that meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • have a population of less than 100,000 people
  • have a population density of 100 people/km2 or less

Click here to find out if your community or region meets the definition of rural Ontario as outlined above. (text version)

Please read the RED program guidelines for more information on who can apply.

Intake Dates

The program is now open. Applications will be accepted during the following timeframes:

  • From January 30, 2017 (12:00 p.m.) to March 31, 2017 (5:00 p.m. Eastern)
  • From July 31, 2017 (9:00 a.m.) to September 29, 2017 (5:00 p.m. Eastern)

Applicants are required to read the guidelines before completing an application form.

RED Strengthens Rural Ontario

The project must take place in rural Ontario or demonstrate benefits to rural Ontario.

How has the RED program changed?

The renewed RED program focuses solely on community economic development by providing funding to rural communities, Indigenous communities and organizations, and not-for-profit organizations to help remove barriers to economic development.

To help improve the coordination of regional business support programs the former business stream of the RED program will be integrated with the Jobs and Prosperity Fund as announced in the 2016 Ontario Budget.

For more information please contact:

Agricultural Information Contact Centre: 1-877-424-1300 or


Author: OMAFRA Staff
Creation Date: 30 January 2017
Last Reviewed: 30 January 2017