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Legal Guide

Federal, provincial and municipal government assistance is available to businesses in a wide variety of forms and can play a critical role in determining whether, when, where, and how to establish or expand a business. No financial or business development plan for a Canadian business should be regarded as complete, unless the opportunities for assistance from all three levels of government have been thoroughly explored.

Government assistance at the federal and provincial level can take a variety of forms, including cash grants, cost sharing, forgivable loans, loans repayable in accordance with future sales or profits, equity participation, tax exemptions or preferential rates, technical assistance (including specific expertise and work force training assistance) and government procurement from the business. Municipal assistance can include reduced taxes or development fees (particularly for plant and office location in municipally-owned industrial and commercial parks) and amendment of existing land use controls.

Government assistance programs at all levels of government are constantly evolving, and so are the types of businesses and geographic areas targeted for assistance. Applicants should not be completely discouraged if an attractive proposal might appear not to meet stated eligibility criteria. Special exemptions or related assistance programs may be found upon further exploration.

Within the federal government, assistance programs are administered by a number of departments, with the principal source of assistance and the general point of interdepartmental assistance program coordination being the Department of Industry, Science and Technology.

Applicants should generally be prepared to present to assistance program managers the same quality of business planning and skill necessary to persuade private sources of financing, plus a demonstration of benefits to Canada, the province or the municipality, as the case may be, such as increased employment, industrial linkages, technology transfer, use of domestically manufactured goods and expansion of exports. Finally, applicants should be prepared to demonstrate some long-term commitment to the area in question.

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