LOCAL businesses are set to benefit from a $500,000 Fraser Coast Regional Council COVID-19 Economic Stimulus package.
A business expo and grants to do up shopfronts are among the initiatives to be rolled out under the program.
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Division 3 Councillor Paul Truscott said the economic impact of the pandemic had been felt worldwide and that the Fraser Coast was not immune.
“We know that at the height of the pandemic almost three quarters of businesses had reported some reduction in turnover or cash flow, but we also know that our local businesses have demonstrated resilience and have been responding to the challenges thrown their way,” Cr Truscott said.
“Council is determined to do what we can to assist businesses to grow our local economy, keep people employed and create new jobs. We have developed a wide range of programs designed to help businesses improve shopfronts, increase sales, reduce costs and share knowledge,” he said.
Cr Truscott said it was important that people generate ideas and stimulate new ways of thinking.
The suite of projects in Council’s COVID Economic Stimulus program include:
- Business Shopfront Grants, $200,000;
- Business Advice Grants, $100,000;
- Business Face-to-Face Survey, $50,000;
- Business Summit Luncheon, $50,000;
- Business Expo, $50,000, and;
- Event Showcase, $50,000.
“The stimulus package adds to the work already undertaken by Council’s Economic Development Team to stimulate the economy in response to the COVID-19 slowdown,” Cr Truscott said.
“Council extended regulated business licences and permits for six months for free, provided rent relief for commercial tenants, introduced the Buy Local Fraser Coast Gift Card initiative and worked with the Queensland Government to secure direct Jetstar flights to and from Sydney,” he added.
The COVID-19 Economic Stimulus package has been welcomed by the business community.
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Maryborough Chamber of Commerce President Michelle Clunn said the package would help the region recover and keep money in the region.
“The shopfront grants in particular, will help businesses and local tradies,” she said.
“Building owners and tenants who have been struggling during the downturn will be able to access grants of up to $5,000 to improve their shopfronts. Creating a place and an atmosphere where people want to visit is vital if we want shoppers and visitors to come to the region.”
The grants are open for commercial and industrial premises and not just heritage buildings or confined to one area.
“They are for almost any business across the Fraser Coast,” Ms Clunn said.
“The grants will also support local tradies who will be contracted to undertake the work. That means that our local businesses support each other, stimulate the local economy and make our towns and cities look great.”
Applicants will need to provide quotes for the work they want to do to access the grants and will have until Christmas to do the work.
Business Shopfront Grant, $200,000: Provide grant of up to $5,000 for improvements to shopfronts. The aim is to stimulate interest in existing businesses to increase customer visits and sales. The region benefits from improved aesthetics and confidence in business areas.
Business Advice Grants, $100,000: Help Fraser Coast businesses to engage the local professional business services providers to improve their capacity and capability across a range of areas including financial management, inventory management, HR management, marketing and digital solutions.
Business Face-to-Face Surveys, $50,000: Surveys to receive direct feedback from local businesses regarding their needs and priorities, for future planning.
Business Summit Luncheon,$50,000: A luncheon open to all businesses with a high-powered speaker to stimulate ideas, sharing business knowledge and generating new ideas.
Business Expo, $50,000: A business expo to provide opportunities for local businesses and business support organisations to showcase product and services. The region benefits from businesses understanding the capability that exists locally and creates stronger local supply chains and networks.
Event Showcase, $50,000: Bring event organisers to the region to familiarise them with the facilities and businesses. The aim is to position the Fraser Coast as a location for events, expos and conferences as well as a business and tourist destination.
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Division 4 Councillor Daniel Sanderson said Council had set aside $1m in its 2020/21 budget for initiatives to help the Fraser Coast community through the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Council previously allocated $300,000 to establish a COVID-19 Support Team within the Regulatory Services department to focus on education and awareness for Council staff, businesses, sporting groups, community groups and event hosts,” he said.
“We have now allocated $500,000 for the COVID-19 Economic Stimulus Package with $200,000 remaining for any emerging issues, including relating to the vaccine roll-out.”
More details about the package and how to access it will be available on Council’s business and investment page soon.