Finding ways to start or sustain your business in rural Canada often presents numerous obstacles. Businesses that rely on foot traffic and volume sales face different dilemmas in sparsely populated areas than do their counterparts in urban areas. Customers are literally few and far between, and conventional lenders tend to shy away from companies whose markets lack potential. While it may seem that agricultural and remotely situated ventures take a back seat to big-city operations, there are numerous government programs that can assist your small-town business. Coupled with an aggressive and savvy business plan, there are grants, loans, and valuable advisement plans that can boost your top line. Explore some of the following opportunities that could propel your business to the next level.
Available in all provinces except Quebec, AgriInvest allows agricultural producers to set aside up to 100% of their annual net sales in an account that receives a government subsidy. The program is designed to improve cash flows in months when revenues decline due to seasonality or unforeseen circumstances, such as natural disasters. Deposits made to this account at participating financial institutions receive a 1% match on funds that max out at $1.5 million, to which a $15,000 contribution limit would apply. Withdrawals from AgriInvest accounts can be made at any time. Eligible participants for the AgriInvest program include corporations, co-ops, partnerships, and landlords involved in joint ventures. These entities must show farming taxable income or loss in the production of agricultural commodities that exclude dairy products, poultry, and eggs. No separate application is required, as the process dovetails with the applicable producer tax form.
Canadian Agricultural Loans Act
Cash flow continues to be one of the most significant concerns that Canadian farm businesses face. Developed to assist agricultural producers, the Canadian Agricultural Loans Act offers up to $500,000 in funding to farmers and co-ops for the purchase of land, for new construction, or for improvements to existing structures. The loans are available through participating financial institutions that include credit unions and caisses populaires. Both established and startup farmers qualify for the program, and existing loans can be consolidated or refinanced if the original loans meet the spirit of the CALA program. Farming need not be your primary business to participate; part-time producers also meet eligibility requirements for the program.
Industrial Research Assistance Program
Small non-farm businesses look to the Industrial Research Assistance Program for advisory services and networking opportunities in addition to financial assistance. The program offers industrial technology advisors who walk new and existing small business owners through key stages of the innovation process. These strategic planners offer subject matter expertise across a broad spectrum of Canadian industry, with 130 offices spanning the Atlantic and Nunavut territories to the Pacific. IRAP also provides funding for youth employment programs that assist individuals between the ages of 15 and 30 in honing career skills, seeking employment, and retaining jobs. Funds are available to small businesses that hire and train new entrants into the labor force.