Businesses across the Shire have been doing it tough for months. The combined effects of the drought, bushfires, floods and now the Covid-19 Pandemic have resulted in a devastating economic downturn across the Shire.
This week’s announcement from the NSW and Commonwealth Governments that our Shire’s small businesses are now eligible for the $10,000 Bushfire Grants Scheme is welcomed news indeed.
“Our Shire has experienced an approximate 70% downturn in trade since the bushfires so it was crucial that we qualified for the grants scheme and that our efforts to respond to and recover from the recent drought, fires, floods and the current pandemic crisis were financially supported,” says Bellingen Shire Council Mayor, Cr Dominic King.
Cr King said Council has been lobbying the NSW Deputy Premier, the Office of Emergency Management, the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment and the Members for Cowper and Oxley to address the immediate and longer-term financial sustainability challenges faced by local businesses.
Our Bellingen Shire Chambers of Commerce have also been actively canvassing the Federal Member Pat Conaghan and the State Member Melinda Pavey to plead the case for bushfire affected businesses in this Shire. “While not all businesses were destroyed by the fire, the pall of thick smoke over the area since October 2019 decimated tourist numbers and reduced the economic activity on which most small businesses in the Shire survive,” says Libby Park, Bellingen Chamber of Commerce President.
These collaborative efforts have certainly meant a win for our local economy. However, it is well understood that some ongoing financial support is going to be required. “It’s great that we’ve been able to deliver a local response that will contribute towards easing the immediate financial burden on our local businesses, but it’s also crucial that we secure ongoing financial assistance to ensure our shared vison for a sustainable future is realised,” says Cr King.
“We need NSW and Commonwealth Government financial support so we can forward plan for the social and economic impacts our Shire will face in the months and years ahead due to the financial pressures from the recent bushfires and the additional costs associated with the current pandemic crisis.”
For more information on the $10,000 Bushfire Grant Scheme or to apply contact @Service NSW via https://www.service.nsw.gov.au/campaign/business-support-bushfire-impacted-communities or call 13 77 88.
To be eligible for the $10,000 Grant, small businesses must have experienced a 40 per cent drop in revenue over a three-month period, compared to last year, because of the bushfires.