The Ontario government is committing $3.3 million in cost-share funding to 58 projects through the updated Rural Economic Development Program (RED) to help rural and Indigenous communities diversify their economies, retain skilled workers, invest in local infrastructure and create jobs. Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs joined Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transortation and Francophone Affairs and MPP for York-Simcoe in Willow Beach to announce the first recipient from the program. “Supporting local jobs and removing barriers to investment and economic growth in rural communities is more important than ever,” said Minister Hardeman. “As the economy reopens, our investments in the Rural Economic Development program will have a very real impact for communities across rural Ontario.” One local project that will receive funding through the RED program is the Ontario Water Centre. An investment of $150,000 will help support their Young Agripreneurs Program (YAP) that provides hands-on experience to young people interested in pursuing careers in regenerative agriculture. This initiative is one of 58 successful projects receiving funding from the first intake of the updated RED program. Project applications to the RED program were subjected to a streamlined process starting last year to reduce the burden for applicants. “Through today’s investment, our government is creating jobs and driving economic growth at a time when needed most in rural Ontario,” said MPP Mulroney. “By investing in today’s youth and career development through great local organizations like the Ontario Water Centre, we’re ensuring young people can stay and work in their own communities.” Supporting renewal, growth and economic recovery in rural and Indigenous communities is part of the government’s plan to get every region of Ontario back on track so they can create jobs, opportunity and prosperity for everyone.