Hamilton Small Business Grants (2023): 23 Funding Programs to Help Hamilton Entrepreneurs

Hamilton is currently marketing itself a prime business centre, given its proximity to border crossings and international airports, and the number of Hamilton small business grants certainly don’t hurt!

In this complete guide we cover 23 programs that are available specifically for Hamilton entrepreneurs.

City of Hamilton Mandate

The City’s vision “To be the best place to raise a child and age successfully” reflects the kind of city Hamiltonians want to aspire to become. It means having an inclusive community, actively engaged in making Hamilton a better place for everyone. It is creating an accessible environment, supporting residents through all of life’s stages, and one that encourages positive development of children as they grow towards becoming healthy adults and seniors.

The City of Hamilton’s economic development mandate is to retain and create living-wage jobs, increase the non-residential tax base, and increase Hamilton’s attractiveness as “the best place to raise a child and age successfully”.

City of Hamilton Priorities

The City of Hamilton’s priorities include:

  • Climate change,
  • Multi-modal transportation,
  • Homelessness & affordable housing,
  • Equity, diversity & inclusion,
  • Integrated growth and development,
  • Trust & confidence in city government,
  • Fiscal health and financial management, and
  • A healthy, respectful and supportive workplace.

The City of Hamilton’s economic development priorities include:

  • Facilitating a skilled and adaptable workforce,
  • Enhancing digital infrastructure and services,
  • Growing business and investments,
  • Moving goods and people,
  • Revitalizing priority areas and placemaking, and
  • Building transformational projects.

You can learn about City of Hamilton’s economic development priorities by reading its 2021-25 Economic Development Action Plan.

What Can Hamilton Small Business Grants Be Used For?

Hamilton small business grants can be used to pay for many aspects of starting or running a business. Here are some of the uses that are covered by programs in our grants database:

  • Covering the costs of construction and or redevelopment of sustainable industrial, commercial, mixed-use and multi-unit residential buildings and land development in the urban area
  • Funding support for research and development, product development, mentorship, and coaching
  • Conserving and restoring heritage features of properties used for commercial, institutional, industrial, or multi-residential purposes

See the section below with a complete list of grants available for the small businesses in the City of Hamilton.

Am I Eligible for a Hamilton Small Business Grant? Common Eligibility Criteria

Two of the most common questions we get asked at Ontario Business Grants are “Am I eligible?” and “How do I qualify?”.

We analyzed the Hamilton small business grants in our grants database, and these are the most common qualifications we identified:

  • Have commercial units on properties zoned to permit commercial uses in the City of Hamilton
  • Have commercial units that are accessible to the public/customers and may include, but not be limited to, retail uses, artist studios/galleries containing a retail component and/or dine-in or take-out restaurants
  • Have met the goals of the Revitalizing Hamilton’s Commercial Districts Community Improvement Plan
  • Be developing, redeveloping or renovating lands and buildings within the Hamilton area
  • Be for-profit organizations in the City of Hamilton, registered and incorporated in Canada

Note: these are just the most common eligibility criteria – there are many grants with different requirements.

Hamilton Small Business Grants: Current Grants Available

In the table below we list the grants currently available to Hamilton small businesses.

To learn more about each program, just click the program name and you’ll be taken to a web page that provides detailed information on the program, including eligibility, the dollar amount of the program, and how to apply for the grant:

Grants for Hamilton Small Businesses

Other Types of Funding for Hamilton Small Businesses

Our goal is for this guide to be a complete source of funding information for Hamilton small businesses. So, in this section you’ll find all the other money programs (besides grants) that are available to Hamilton entrepreneurs:

Loans for Hamilton Small Businesses

  • Government Loans for Hamilton Small Businesses

A loan might not sound as good as a grant, but many loans for Hamilton small businesses have a low interest rate. While they might not be free money, if you don’t qualify for a grant, a low-interest loan is probably the next best thing.


Guaranteed Government Grants

Get a FREE 45-page guide with proven steps to business grants success:

    We respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at anytime.

    The programs below include municipal government loans:

    Government Loans for Hamilton Small Businesses

    • Competitions for Hamilton Small Businesses

    A competition usually refers to a pitch competition, a contest where entrepreneurs give a pitch (a short and compelling presentation of their business concept) to a panel in the hope of winning a cash prize or investment capital.

    Here are the competitions currently available for Hamilton small businesses:

    Competitions for Hamilton Small Businesses

    • In-kind Support Programs for Hamilton Small Businesses

    In-kind support refers to non-cash resources provided to support businesses. In kind-support can take various forms: access to coaching, mentorship, investors, logistical and technical resources (space, equipment, computers, internet and software, free testbed), training programs, business advice and counseling. Entrepreneurship centres, accelerators and incubators provide valuable in-kind support to new and existing entrepreneurs.

    In-Kind Support Programs for Hamilton Entrepreneurs

    Name of ProgramAmountType
    Innovation Factory – iF’s Pitch & Networking NightNo Fixed AmountCompetition, In-Kind Support
    Access Community Capital Fund – Business Loans$5000In-Kind Support, Loan
    The Forge, McMaster University – Startup Survivor Program and Pitch Competition$ 75000.00 Competition, In-Kind Support

    Best Hamilton Small Business Grants, Loans & More

    While there are lots of good programs available, below we highlight some of the best grants, loans, investment & more for Hamilton small businesses:

    Best Government Grants for Hamilton Small Businesses

    City of Hamilton, Hamilton Economic Development – Brownfields/ERASE Program

    As with many cities and communities throughout Ontario, brownfield development is an important component of both city development and environmental restoration.

    In this vein, the City of Hamilton has put together a comprehensive incentive program that includes a variety of financial programs designed to encourage the redevelopment of brownfield sites.

    Having just one department to administer every component of the program allows the City to offer guidance, information, and access to regulatory and planning contacts all in one place. Therefore, you’ll find this program includes the Study Grant, the Redevelopment Grant, Education Tax Assistance, The Hamilton Downtown/West Harbourfront Remediation Loan Program, and additional nonfinancial components.

    The Study Grant will give you up to $20,000 (excluding HST) to a maximum of 2 studies and $35,000 (excluding HST) per project to conduct a Phase 2 and/or a Phase 3 Environmental Site Assessment, whatever is needed, when you apply.

    The Redevelopment Grant is a grant equalling 80% of the property tax increase you see as a result of developing a brownfield site for 10 years. They’ll pay you every year, but you won’t start receiving it until after you apply and after you see an increase in your property taxes.

    In an identical fashion, the Education Tax Assistance incentive offers property owners a freeze or cancellation of part of the educational tax portion on a brownfield property when they remediate and redevelop it. You’ll see this freeze or cancellation for 3 years after you complete the project, and it’s applied automatically to your taxes.

    City of Hamilton, Hamilton Economic Development – Commercial District Revitalization Grant Program

    The Commercial District Revitalization Grant Program (the Program) provides funds that will support long-lasting and predominantly exterior physical improvements to the appearance, accessibility and environmental sustainability of commercial or mixed-use commercial properties located within strategic commercial districts, including Business Improvement Areas (BIA), whose visibility and long-term success contributes to Hamilton’s image for both residents and visitors.

    City of Hamilton, Hamilton Economic Development – Commercial Vacancy Assistance (CVA) Program

    The Commercial Vacancy Assistance (CVA) Program provides financial assistance in the form of a Grant to new permanent or ‘pop-up’ commercial tenants of a presently vacant at, or below grade, commercial space so as to make permanent interior improvements for the purposes of improving the attractiveness and usability of the space for the intended commercial use.

    City of Hamilton, Hamilton Economic Development – Hamilton Heritage Property Grant (HHPG) Program

    Urban revitalization and regeneration are a top priority for the City of Hamilton, and as such, they offer this heritage property grant to achieve that goal.

    The grant is open to any property owner within an active Hamilton BIA area or designated under Parts IV or V of the Ontario Heritage Act within the lower city between Highway 403 and the Red Hill Valley Parkway used for commercial, institutional, industrial, or multi-residential purposes.

    The catch, however, is that only properties that need structural or stability work to conserve and restore heritage features and/or need heritage studies, reports, and/or assessments for properties designated under Parts IV or V of the Ontario Heritage Act will qualify.

    City of Hamilton, Hamilton Economic Development – LEED Grant Program

    Environmental sustainability is also integral to Hamilton’s core policies, and as such, they’ve put together this grant program that will give you a grant equal to 75% or less of the increase you see on your city property tax as a result of attaining LEED certification.

    This is a grant you’ll continue receiving for 5 years, so think about LEED certification because you’ll also benefit from lower energy bills. The grant is meant to ease the cost of construction, consultation, energy modelling, and certification fees, but it is a matching grant program, so you’ll have to contribute the same amount.

    Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) – Save on Energy – Retrofit Program

    Get even more money to make your business more energy efficient and save you money with this program from IESO’s Save on Energy.

    This one has 2 options: the prescriptive track and the comprehensive track. The prescriptive is your best bet for quick projects and upgrades such as improved lighting, though the minimum incentive amount is $500. The comprehensive track is a better fit for larger, more comprehensive projects with lots of components. This one will get you an incentive of up to 50% of project costs.

    Chances are you qualify since most buildings are eligible: commercial, industrial, food services, agricultural, and more.

    Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) – Save on Energy – Energy Performance Program

    Sign up to continually improve your energy usage and you could be rewarded for it with this program.

    As long as you’re not an industrial or manufacturing business, you could receive a pay-for-performance financial incentive, plus a modelling incentive of $1,500 for each enrolled building, up to a maximum of $15,000 for 10 approved buildings.

    You get to choose which improvements and investments to make to achieve your improved energy efficiency, and your payments end up equal to 20% of the annual baseline electricity consumption of your building(s).

    Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) – Save on Energy – Small Business Program

    The Save on Energy Small Business program is designed to help small businesses across Ontario make equipment improvements to reduce their energy consumption, at no cost. Leveraging the success of the former Small Business Lighting program, this new and improved program offers small businesses direct-install incentives on an expanded range of equipment – both lighting and non-lighting.

    Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) – Save on Energy – Industrial Energy Efficiency Program (IEEP)

    IESO’s Save on Energy Industrial Energy Efficiency Program (IEEP) supports industrial customers across Ontario in improving their industrial processes and implementing system optimization projects. The program offers organizations up to $5 million in financial incentives for each large, complex industrial energy-efficiency project accepted into the program.

    Best Municipal Government Loans for Hamilton Small Businesses

    City of Hamilton, Hamilton Economic Development – Hamilton Community Heritage Fund Loan (HCHFL) Program

    Do you have a property anywhere in the Hamilton area designated under Parts IV or V of the Ontario Heritage Act? If this is you, give this 0% loan a shot to restore or conserve the heritage features of your building, thereby improving the attractiveness of your business.

    You could borrow up to $50,000 to spruce up those designated heritage features and get 10 years to pay it back in the usual monthly fashion. Alternatively, you also have the choice of paying it back in yearly installments equal to 10% of the amount owing for 4 years. The catch here is that you will end up with a balloon payment at the end.

    City of Hamilton, Hamilton Economic Development – Hamilton Downtown/West Harbourfront Remediation Loan Program (RLP)

    Remediate and redevelop a property in Downtown Hamilton or the West Harbourfront for commercial (or residential) purposes and the Hamilton Downtown/West Harbourfront Remediation Loan Program will offer you a low interest loan equal to 80% of the cost of remediation up to $400,000 per property/project. This program is meant to be a stopgap until you receive your Redevelopment Grant or the Hamilton Tax Increment Grant, so while you will have to pay the loan back, at least the money isn’t coming out of your pocket in the end.

    City of Hamilton, Hamilton Economic Development – Start-up and Office Tenant Attraction (SOTA) Program

    The Start-up and Office Tenant Attraction (SOTA) Program (the Program) is intended to provide low-interest Loans or Forgivable Loans that will facilitate the undertaking of eligible leasehold improvements to office space by property owners or authorized tenants in order to support the creation of new office space and improve the marketability and attractiveness of existing office space.

    Best Municipal Government Rebate for Hamilton Small Businesses

    City of Hamilton, Hamilton Economic Development – Barton/Kenilworth Planning and Building Fees Rebate (BKPBFR) Program

    We all know there are fees for everything, especially when it comes to building and renovating. But there’s good news if you’re planning a project like this in the Barton Village Business Improvement Area, the Barton/Kenilworth Commercial Corridors, or properties that front Barton Street between James Street North and Victoria Avenue North.

    If this is the case, when you download and send in the application form, the City could rebate both the Planning Fee and the Building Fee to a maximum of $50,000.

    Best Municipal Government Investment for Hamilton Small Businesses

    City of Hamilton, Hamilton Economic Development – ERASE Municipal Acquisition and Partnership Program (MAPP)

    As a business owner of Hamilton, you should know that the city is committed to being at the forefront of brownfield redevelopment. The city is actively working to administer programs and take on stewardship in this area, and is always looking for opportunities to redevelop brownfield sites, including those owned by the city itself. The ERASE Municipal Acquisition and Partnership Program (MAPP) is a great example of this commitment, as it involves the acquisition of city properties and partnerships with private sector organizations to clean up and redevelop brownfield sites. These pilot projects may even use innovative tools and technologies to accomplish their goals.

    Best Non-profit Grant for Hamilton Small Businesses

    Innovation Factory – Hamilton Ecosystem to Accelerate & Leverage Trials of Health Innovation (HEALTHI) Program

    HEALTHI program provides an opportunity for Canadian life science firms to work directly with the Research Administration groups at Hamilton Health Sciences or The Research Institute at St. Joe’s Hamilton to create the pre-trial protocols and documents required to undertake a commercialization project or clinical trial in one of Canada’s leading research hospitals.

    Best Non-profit Loans for Hamilton Small Businesses

    Access Community Capital Fund – Business Loans

    The Business Loans provide affordable loans plus free business coaching services to entrepreneurs in the Greater Toronto Area and Hamilton.

    Fondation Franco-Ontarienne – Micro-credit Funds

    With support from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario and in partnership with the Prescott-Russell Community Development Corporation (SDCPR), the Franco-Ontarian Foundation (Foundation) supports Francophone entrepreneurs girls from Southern Ontario (Windsor to Hawkesbury). The micro-credit program provides borrowers with repayable financial assistance, offered in the form of loans.

    Best Competition for Hamilton Small Businesses

    The Forge, McMaster University – Startup Survivor Program and Pitch Competition

    Startup Survivor is a 4-month innovation program culminating with a pitch competition in October, open to McMaster students and recent alumni. Throughout the summer, The Forge will be giving out up to $75,000 cash to the teams competing in the 6 challenges.

    Western Morrissette Institute for Entrepreneurship (Western University) – Proteus Innovation Competition (Proteus IC)

    The Proteus Innovation Competition is an intense four-month competition that will challenge individuals to create a viable commercialization strategy for 1 of 5 promising technologies, in hopes of winning a cash prize of up to $5,000. This three part competition allows contestants to hone their business skills, work with a variety of experienced advisors, and accelerate the commercialization process of discoveries coming out of Ontario’s institutions.

    Innovation Factory – LiONʼS LAIR

    LiONʼS LAIR is an annual competition presented by Innovation Factory in partnership with the City of Hamilton Economic Development office, which brings together the entrepreneurship and innovation community in Hamilton. The competition gives up-and-coming entrepreneurs the opportunity to pitch their business to a panel of Hamilton’s top business experts for a chance to win cash prizes.

    Best Incubator for Hamilton Entrepreneurs

    The Forge, McMaster University – The Forge Business Incubator

    The Forge Business Incubator, an 8-month incubation program funded by McMaster University, is serving novel and scalable startups in the Hamilton, Greater Toronto, and Niagara Regions. Launched in 2015, The Forge works hands-on with entrepreneurs to develop their business ideas from ideation and validation to growth. The Forge is sector agnostic and offers cohort-based programming.

    The Bottom Line

    Here’s the bottom line, Hamilton entrepreneurs: there are so many more programs available to help you start, grow, or maintain your business than you may have thought.

    From incentives to encourage you to become more energy efficient and save money on your hydro bills, to intensive incubator programs that could explode your business plus give you access to investors, to grants to help you restore that heritage property you love, you’ll find something that works for you at the municipal level.

    And before you even begin to wade through the financial incentive programs available only to those business owners in Hamilton, remember to sift through all the available provincial and federal programs too!

    But wait. Don’t forget to join your Chamber of Commerce, the Hamilton Business Centre, the Innovation Factory, and your local BIA to add even more tools to your entrepreneur tool belt.

    City of Hamilton Contact

    Hamilton City Hall:

    71 Main Street West, 7th Floor
    Hamilton, Ontario L8P 4Y5
    Phone: 1-800-868-1329

    Social Media:

    City of Hamilton


    Hamilton Economic Development


    Similar Posts

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *