LEAMINGTON: The Ontario government is committing nearly $1 million in cost-share funding, to help rural communities diversify their economies, retain skilled workers and create jobs. Today, details about the funding were released by Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, which is being provided through a new targeted intake of the ‘Rural Economic Development’ program (RED). “This funding will focus on diversifying regional economies and improving the competitiveness of rural businesses across the province,” said Minister Hardeman. “Due to the COVID-19 crisis, many people are struggling, and this funding will support job creation and investment, to help lift up individuals, families and businesses.” The intake is directed at not-for-profit organizations with a mandate towards regional economic development, and eligible projects would be eligible for up to 70 percent of total costs to a maximum of $75,000 in provincial funding. Minister Hardeman also announced more than $3 million in funding, cost-shared with applicants, to be invested in 65 projects, through a previous RED intake. This funding will support economic development efforts such as: Capital improvements to enhance an uptown arts and cultural hub, to increase tourism; Implementing new and accessible streetscaping, to develop a more inviting downtown; Waterfront development, to expand and revitalize local trails.