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Businesses supported with economic support package in Singleton

Partnership between Singleton Council and Singleton Business Chamber to bring support for local business.

More than $300,000 is being rolled out for a range of initiatives to support businesses across the Singleton local government area to recover from the impacts of drought, bushfire and COVID-19, under a partnership between Singleton Council and the Singleton Business Chamber.

A centrepiece of the economic support package is the $100,000 Business Relief and Rebuild Fund, delivered under the BHP Vital Resources Fund, targeting businesses that were significantly negatively impacted but ineligible for no other government support.

The fund offered grants between $2,000 and $10,000 to help businesses ensure continuity of operations, with applications received from a diverse range of businesses and for a range of projects.

General Manager Jason Linnane said Council and the Chamber were quick to act when the COVID-19 restrictions came into force, and the results of the initiatives under the package were now starting to show.

“Our aim was to provide tangible assistance to businesses across our local government area to support operators and our economy in very challenging circumstances,” he said.

“That’s why the first step was to survey our local business people to really understand the impact, and then to tailor our response to ensure we were providing the assistance they needed to deliver results for our people and our economy.

“Then, to ensure all programs were informed with up-to-date local, regional and national business need and rapidly changing information, a Community Support Working Group was set up with internal and external stakeholders/members, external members included Sue Gilroy and Danny Eather from the Singleton Business Chamber and Simon Rutherford, Director from PKF Consultants, who provided a governance and business need direction for all programs.

“We’ve also been very proactive in encouraging our community to support local operators as well, particularly through a spend local campaign that showcased the businesspeople we see every day in a social media video, billboards and a banner mesh poster throughout the community and Town Centre.”

The survey of business owners found that:

  • 85% of businesses were impacted, with more than 50% losing 75% of their income for some months
  • Nearly 30% of businesses were not eligible for any government funding, including JobKeeper, despite being significantly impacted
  • 97% of the community expressed an interest to support local businesses

In addition to the Business Relief and Rebuild Fund and Spend in Singleton Support Local Program and Promotion, other initiatives included the Business Supporting Business program, providing $250 preloaded Spend in Singleton gift cards to local businesses for the purchase of essential supplies for their business.

Council is also working with the Hunter Valley Wine and Tourism Association, Cessnock Council, Around Hermitage Association and Broke Fordwich Wine Tourism Association on a major Hunter Valley Destination Marketing Campaign that is underway.

The coming months will also see practical training programs for local businesses on financial and cashflow planning, marketing and social media and business resilience and recovery, and more Spend in Singleton support and programs for Father’s Day and Christmas.

Singleton Business Chamber president Sue Gilroy said the success of the program

had also attracted attention from other Chambers asking for assistance to launch their own programs and build relationships with key stakeholders in their communities.

“Both the Chamber and Council have differing areas of strength. By collaborating on a partnership we harness the best of both organisations to deliver outstanding value to the Singleton community,” she said.

“The response [from businesses] has been fabulous with recognition of the value of the program and enthusiasm to become involved.”

Businesses who want to know more about the Business Support Package in Singleton can contact Singleton Council or Singleton Business Chamber or follow Council and Chamber on Facebook to find out more about upcoming business support programs.

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