Southwestern Ontario Development Fund officially launched in London on Friday
London Community News
Photo by Mike Maloney/London Community News/Twitter: mdmaloneyphoto
Members of the Southwestern Ontario business community, various regional municipalities and levels of government made their way to London on Friday (Oct. 19) for the official launch of the Southwestern Ontario Development Fund (SWODF).
The $20 million fund is designed to help attract investment and strengthen the regional economy.
Serge Lavoie, president of the Southwest Economic Alliance (SWEA), one of the groups that lobbied for the creation of this fund, explained that SWEA is made up of a collection of municipalities, businesses, colleges and universities — all trying to transform the economy of Southwestern Ontario.
“You need start up money to do stuff like that,” said Lavoie. “This fund is $20 million a year. It’s a fund that people can apply to get a loan or get a grant with a good idea and build their business.”
‘This is a small fund with great potential,” said London West MP Chris Bentley. He noted that with the similar Eastern Ontario Development Fund, for every dollar in that fund, it attracted $10 or more of private or other investment.
Pointing out that it is not intended for activities like retailing or large construction, Bentley said projects eligible for the fund are job-creating projects. “So new equipment, innovative design approaches to making products … It really is for that long-term project.”
London Mayor Joe Fontana was one of the municipal leaders in attendance. Glad to see the fund finally launched, he echoed Bentley’s comment on how this investment by the province will attract more from the private sector. Fontana remarked that it would not only help established companies grow and create new employment opportunities, but would assist new businesses as well.
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