The Oxford County Tourism Innovation Grant is back for another year! Community Futures Oxford has teamed up with Tourism Oxford and Rural Oxford Economic Development to award three grants of $3,000 to local businesses that will develop or expand tourism experiences in Oxford County in 2024.

With growing interest in domestic travel destinations, it is important to offer exciting and innovative visitor experiences to motivate longer stays and increase year-round visits. The Oxford County Tourism Innovation Grant encourages businesses to consider growing revenue through tourism.

Businesses that meet the eligibility criteria are invited to apply for the Oxford County Tourism Innovation Grant by February 15, 2024. The grant committee will then invite finalists for an in-person interview, following a thorough review and scoring of each application. Applications will be evaluated on creativity, innovation, feasibility, economic and community impact, as well as equity and inclusion.

Contact Meredith Maywood with Tourism at Oxford County to review grant eligibility and receive feedback to assist with your application. 

To inspire your application, read about our 2023 recipients below and our 2022 grant recipients here.

Interested businesses should read the following eligibility criteria. If eligible, they can complete the online application.

For more information or to discuss your idea or eligibility:

Janet Wakutz [email protected] 519-425-0401

Grant Eligibility

Applicants must meet all the following eligibility requirements in order for their application to be reviewed:

  • Grant application is for an activity that will be implemented the 2024 calendar year.
  • Businesses must meet Tourism Oxford’s  partnership eligibility requirements for a free listing on  www.TourismOxford.ca. Businesses may ask for advice/support in meeting the requirements in order to become eligible.
  • The applicant’s business has been in operation for more than two years.
  • Business operates within Oxford County.
  • Master business license.
  • Proof of insurance.
  • Confirmation of appropriate zoning and permits if applicable.
  • Applicants who have previously received the tourism innovation grant are ineligible to apply.

Eligible Expenses:

  • Capital
  • Professional business services, included but not limited to: construction, plans, consulting, photography, video, writing, product development/research, web & graphic design)

Ineligible Expenses:

Special Consideration

The Oxford County Tourism Innovation Grant is looking for businesses that will help Tourism Oxford meet consumer needs and bring new voices to Tourism. Therefore, the application review will reflect the following as areas of priority:

Equity Statement:

Diversity fuels innovation in community economic development. A measure of success of this program will include bringing more diverse voices into tourism industry in Oxford County. To this end, the tourism innovation grant will be inclusive across race, gender, age, ability, identity and experience. Equity deserving entrepreneurs requiring support completing their application are encouraged to request additional guidance as required. Further, if there are barriers that we may have overlooked in the process we welcome your feedback on how barriers can be removed.

Local tourism development priorities:

Proposed projects must fit within Tourism Oxford pillars for development focus (in order of priority):

  1. Culture
  2. Sustainability & outdoor
  3. Experiences
  4. Cycling
  5. Culinary

APPLICATION PROCESS

  • Submit your application by February 15.
  • Applicants meeting the eligibility criteria will have their applications scored according to the metrics in the scoring chart below to determine finalists.
  • Applicants will be notified by March 1 if they have been selected as a finalist to participate in an interview/pitch with the judging panel. Interviews will be held virtually the evening of March 18. Those selected to be a grant recipient will be notified following the interviews and will receive their grant of $3000 by March 31.

Grant Review Scoring Metrics

CRITERIAMAX SCORE
Creativity & Need30
Ability to develop20
Marketing skills/plan10
Economic impact10
DEI10
Community impact10
Financial contribution10
Total100

2023 recipients were:

Berrylicious Fruit Farms will renovate an outdoor space to accommodate an accessible area for their popular picnics in the patch. This space will allow for new foodie experiences and spontaneous picnic trips to the farm.

Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese will create permanent infrastructure for outdoor events and modernize the attraction by adding digital education signage about dairy farming and agriculture.

Sixthirtynine will use the grant to elevate the chef’s table to include locally crafted seating and will incorporate the history of the restaurant. This unique dining experience allows visitors to be seated within the kitchen where they can watch their food be prepared, interact with the chef and ask questions about the food.

Terra Nova Nordic Spa will install self sustaining structures that can be used to provide unique spa treatments or dining experiences. When combined, the four award-winning projects will create more than seven local jobs, support 53 local suppliers, welcome more than 11,480 visitors in 2023, and invest more than $85,500 into the Oxford County economy.