Frequently asked questions

Have you heard about the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) but are not sure who we are and what we do? This will put you on the right track. If your question is not listed here, let us know.

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Q. What is the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency?
A. ACOA is one of seven regional development agencies across Canada. It is a Government of Canada department that focuses on growing the economy in Atlantic Canada. We work with businesses, community leaders and researchers to create jobs and build strong and inclusive communities by fuelling growth, export and innovation.

Q. How does ACOA help grow the economy?

A. ACOA helps local businesses grow by helping them diversify, export and innovate. We work with communities and organizations by supporting projects that help build strong local economies. We encourage companies and researchers to work together to develop and sell new or improved products and services. You can learn more by visiting our Programs and initiatives page.

Q. What kind of help is available to start a new business?

A. ACOA has several programs for new businesses. If you have a great idea for a new product or service, check out the programs available to you. You can also contact ACOA Business Information Services, our one-stop information shop, which can offer:

Q. What kind of funding does ACOA offer?

A. ACOA has different types of financial aid: repayable (unconditionally or conditionally) and non-repayable.

*A contribution agreement is a contract signed by ACOA and a client receiving funding. It sets out the terms and conditions under which we provide financial assistance, including the terms of repayment, if any.

Q. Can ACOA help me develop a business plan?
A. Yes, we have a guide for that! You can also contact ACOA Business Information Services. We have thousands of templates you can use to get started. We can also help by:

Q. Can I apply for funding if I don't live in Atlantic Canada? 
A. Yes, as long as the funding is going to a project in Atlantic Canada that will help the region.

Q. Can my business get more than one contribution? 
A. Yes. Each project is aimed at reaching a specific business goal, such as purchasing new technology or hiring help to reach new markets. This means ACOA can fund more than one project with the same company.

Q. Who can I talk to about growing my business?
A. ACOA has a number of programs that can help you be more productive, buy new equipment, build a larger plant, or export to new markets. Contact the ACOA office nearest you to speak with us today.

Q. Is information about projects funded by ACOA available to everyone? 
A. Information on projects funded by ACOA can be found on the Open Government portal. However, specific information on projects, such as how much has been repaid so far, is confidential. 

Q. What happens if my company can't pay back the funding received from ACOA? 
A. If you are unable to meet the repayment schedule, we will make every possible effort to work with you to help you get back on track. If this doesn’t work and you go into default, ACOA will enforce the terms and conditions in your contribution agreement, which may include legal action.

Q. Do you work with other federal departments or levels of government to grow the economy of Atlantic Canada? 
A. We couldn’t do what we do without the help of individuals, business organizations and all levels of government in the Atlantic region.

One example is the Atlantic Growth Strategy (AGS), a bold plan to create jobs for Atlantic Canadians, grow the middle class and strengthen the region’s economy. Launched in July 2016, it focuses on five priorities for the region:

The federal and provincial governments are working on the AGS under the joint leadership of federal ministers and the Atlantic premiers. 

Contact us today!

If you have more questions, ACOA Business Information Services can help. Call one of our bilingual agents now at 1-888-576-4444.

Or contact us by email:


Hours of operation: Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. (Atlantic time)

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