As a hub for higher education, medical research, manufacturing, and technology, London, Ontario is an excellent place to start a business in Ontario.
If you’re thinking about starting a business in London, or you’re looking for money to grow and existing business, we’ve got you covered. In this complete guide to London small business grants, we cover grants, loans, entrepreneurship programs, and more.
City of London Mandate
The City of London’s vision is to be a leader in commerce, culture, and innovation – the region’s connection to the World. London aims to be a responsive and modern public service partner that fosters change to build a better London for all.
City of London Priorities
You can learn about the City’s priorities by reading its 2019-2023 Strategic Plan.
What Can London Small Business Grants Be Used For?
London 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:
See the section below with a complete list of grants available for London small businesses.
Am I Eligible for a London 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 London small business grants in our grants database, and these are the most common qualifications we identified:
And that’s just a sample! See the section below with a complete list of grants available for London small businesses.
Best London 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 London small businesses:
Best Government Grants for London Small Businesses
City of London – Brownfields Contamination Assessment Grants
If you own eligible properties with real or suspected contamination, you can apply for Contamination Assessment Grants to conduct Phase II Environmental Site Assessments, Remedial Action Plans, and/or Risk Assessments in accordance with the Environmental Protection Act. The grant covers 50% of the cost of the environmental study, up to a maximum of $10,000 per property, once the application is approved.
Both the City and owner must agree to obligations outlined in an agreement. The studies must be conducted by a qualified person according to Regulation 153/04, and upon completion, the City must receive copies of all study reports.
City of London – Brownfields Tax Increment Equivalent Grant Program
The Tax Increment Equivalent Grant is based on the increase in municipal property taxes between pre-development and post-development values after rehabilitation and development. If the City approves improvements resulting in an increased property value and taxes, they will provide a grant equal to the amount of the municipal property tax increase for up to three years from the date of the increase in assessed value.
City of London – The Heritage Community Improvement Plan Grants
If you own heritage properties that meet the criteria, the Heritage Community Improvement Plan provides two grants to support the financial impacts of preservation: the Tax Increment Grant and the Development Charges Equivalent Grant.
The Tax Increment Grant refunds the increase in municipal property tax resulting from a development or rehabilitation project that includes a designated heritage structure. The Development Charges Equivalent Grant is issued when a designated heritage building is preserved and rehabilitated in conjunction with a development project.
Both incentives benefit the city in the long term by increasing municipal taxes and allowing residents and businesses to continue to benefit from these significant buildings. These buildings can be transformed into viable economic generators for the city through adaptive reuse.
City of London – Industrial Development Charge (DC) Grant Program
If you’re an industrial business within the Urban Growth Boundary, this program offers a significant financial incentive to invest in new development, redevelopment, rehabilitation, or adaptive reuse of buildings for industrial purposes, including commercial truck service establishments.
Under the “Targeted” Grant, eligible applicants can receive a grant equal to 100% of the development charge paid on an industrial building that contains a “targeted” industrial use within the Urban Growth Boundary, excluding Education development charges.
For the “Non-targeted” Grant, eligible applicants can receive a grant equivalent to 50% of the development charge paid up to $500,000 (with a maximum grant of $250,000), with the remaining development charges above $500,000 paid for by the applicant for an industrial building that contains a “non-targeted” industrial use within the Urban Growth Boundary, excluding Education development charges.
City of London – Industrial Lands CIP: Industrial Corridor Enhancement Grant Program
If you are involved in the development, redevelopment, rehabilitation, or adaptive reuse of industrial buildings and want to improve the aesthetics of your site, you may be eligible for a grant under this program.
The grant covers 50% of the cost of eligible landscaping, fencing, berming, screening, and public art, up to a maximum of $20,000 per property. The purpose of the grant is to mitigate the visual impact of industrial use and improve the overall appearance of the site.
Only one application per property is allowed, and the total funding for this program is limited to $40,000 per year, subject to approval of the City budget.
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 London Small Businesses
City of London – Argyle Core Area and Hamilton Road Area Community Improvement Plan Loans
If your properties are situated in the Argyle Core Area, and Hamilton Road Area, you may be eligible for the following loan programs: Upgrade to Building Code and the Facade Improvement.
The Upgrade to Building Code Loan aims to help property owners finance building improvements to meet contemporary Building Code requirements. Building owners often face difficulties in funding these improvements and the City provides no-interest loans that can be repaid over a maximum of 10 years.
Property owners in the two areas can also get the Façade Improvement Loan, which assists them with improving their building façades that face or are visible from public right of way. This program helps properties conform to the Property Standards By-law and Urban Design Guidelines. Similarly, the City may provide no-interest loans that can be repaid over a maximum of 10 years.
Here is the catch, the City Council will determine the maximum grant/loan available for each program, depending on budget considerations at the time of implementing the incentive program.
City of London – Lambeth Village Core: Facade Improvement Loan Program
If you own a property in the Lambeth Village Core, the Façade Improvement Loan Program can assist you in aligning your building with the new streetscape design elements and overall feel of Main Street resulting from the Main Street Infrastructure Renewal Project. This program offers matching financial assistance for eligible exterior façade works that enhance the building’s appearance and align with the Property Standards By-law and applicable City Design Guidelines.
The City offers no-interest loans that must be repaid within a period of 10 years. Eligible properties can receive a maximum of $50,000 or up to 50% of eligible works, whichever is less.
City of London – Wharncliffe Road Corridor Sign Loan Program
The Sign Loan Program aims to improve the visual identity of the area by supporting changes to sign-related components.
The program offers matching financial assistance for eligible signage works that improve building signage and align with the Property Standards By-law, Sign By-law, and applicable City Design Guidelines. The City may provide no-interest loans that must be repaid within a 10-year period. Eligible properties can receive a maximum of $5,000 or up to 50% of eligible works, whichever is less.
Best Rebate for London Small Businesses
City of London – Brownfield Development Charge Rebate Program
If you’re looking to redevelop brownfield sites in the Community Improvement Project Area, you’ll be glad to know that most of them already have access to municipal services. By choosing to redevelop these sites, you’ll be helping to reduce urban sprawl while taking advantage of the existing infrastructure in the city. Plus, if you decide to undergo site remediation before starting the development process, you may be eligible for a reduced development charge. This financial benefit, combined with other incentives offered for brownfields, can help lower the upfront costs and encourage landowners to invest in these sites.
For brownfield sites that aren’t already exempt, the Development Charges Rebate Program can provide a grant to cover up to 50% of the normal development charge for eligible remediation costs.
Best Non-profit Loans for London Small Businesses
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 Non-profit Investment for London Small Businesses
Lawson Foundation – Impact Investing: Mission-Related Investments (MRI)
Unlike grants, Impact investments are investments made in companies, organizations and funds with the intention to generate measurable social and environmental impact alongside a financial return. These types of investments can be either Mission-Related Investments (MRIs) or Program-Related Investments (PRIs).
Mission-Related Investments (MRI) are investments of assets from the Foundation’s endowment made in for-profit or not-for-profit enterprises with the intention of achieving mission-related objectives as well as typically market-rate, risk-adjusted financial returns. MRIs exist across asset classes and include bonds and deposits, loans, public equity, private equity, venture capital investments and real estate.
Best Competitions for London Small Businesses
Leap Junction – Trampoline Pitch Competition
Trampoline Pitch Competition provides an opportunity to eligible applicants to pitch their business idea in 60 seconds or less in front of a panel of judges, for a chance to win $1,000.
TechAlliance of Southwestern Ontario – London Innovation Challenge
The London Innovation Challenge aims to accelerate and scale select London-developed solutions. Two winners throughout the challenge will receive a $40,000 investment each, customized business advisory services, and a suite of other benefits from TechAlliance.
Western Morrissette Institute for Entrepreneurship (Western University) – Funding Opportunities for Student Entrepreneurs
Western University through its Western Morrissette Institute for Entrepreneurship Powered by Ivey and other partners, provides funding opportunities for student entrepreneurs.
Best In-kind Support Programs for London Entrepreneurs
Have a look at the in-kind support programs below! Some of them provide both in-kind support and funding.
Leap Junction – LeapIN Business Accelerator
The LeapIN Business Accelerator, a 12-week program, is a real-world, hands-on learning experience designed for early-stage Fanshawe College founders to validate their business ideas, establish a minimum viable product, and build a roadmap for implementation to launch their startup.
TechAlliance of Southwestern Ontario – GROW Accelerator
The GROW Accelerator is designed to supercharge businesses’ acceleration from startup to scale-up. It follows a cohort model, with each group of companies meeting weekly with their growth coaches, and gathering monthly for honest and informative conversations with business leaders and high-growth entrepreneurs, as well sharing the opportunities and challenges that each participating company has faced.
Foodpreneur Advantage – Foodpreneur Scale Up Program
The Foodpreneur Scale Up program is designed specifically for food production and distribution businesses that demonstrate high growth potential.
This 10 week program will provide business owners with access to industry experts, customized workshops and peer to peer discussion circles, that will provide the knowledge and tools necessary to successfully scale their businesses.