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Here's your new and improved Heritage Fund

Province announces new funding programs geared to rural communities
The flying saucer at Moonbeam (Township of Moonbeam)

Rural communities are the focus of four new economic development programs launched by the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC).

In a Feb. 11 news release, the government said it consulted with regional leaders, non-for-profits and businesses for feedback on how to respond to the needs of the North. The new programming is part of the government's effort to "modernize" the regional funding agency.

The government said the new programs will target existing and emerging markets, support more projects in rural communities, address the skills labour shortage, and make it easier for more people and businesses to apply.

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The four new programs include:

- The Community Enhancement Program will facilitate upgrades and repairs to vital community assets, such as recreational facilities, community centres and broadband infrastructure that contribute to improved quality of life and support strategic economic development initiatives.

- The Cultural Supports Program will promote and showcase Northern Ontario’s culture, geography, and talent through the production of films and television series and by supporting events, such as conferences and festivals that elevate the profile of communities.

- The Invest North Program will boost economic  growth and attract more investment to the north by supporting business development and expansion, as well as research and commercialization of new technologies.

- The People and Talent Program will attract, develop, and retain a strong northern workforce by supporting a broader range of internships and apprenticeships and providing more opportunities for Indigenous people to gain job experience.

"Our new programming will streamline the application process and help build strong and resilient local economies by making targeted investments in northern businesses, community organizations and municipalities –  bringing good jobs and prosperity to every corner of Northern Ontario," said Northern Development and Mines, and Indigenous Affairs Minister Greg Rickford.

“As we work together to recover as a province from the effects of COVID-19, new and improved supports for infrastructure, culture, economic development and training will ensure that our North thrives and emerges stronger than ever before," said Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli.

“It’s great to see the reopening of funding applications to the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation,” said Sault Ste. Marie MPP Ross Romano, MPP for Sault Ste. Marie. “The NOHFC has played a critical role in helping many businesses in Northern Ontario adapt and recover from the COVID-19 outbreak."