Chamber offers advice during uncertain times

Natalie Randall, President of the Tumut Regional Chamber of Commerce, has welcomed the budget stimulus packages introduced by both the federal and state governments, saying that there are a variety of arrangements that small business owners in the Snowy Valleys region can take advantage of after facing the bushfires and now the threat of coronavirus.

Tumbafest was held in Tumbarumba in February, attracting the biggest turnout in years and bringing in much-needed funds to the bushfire affected town. Similar events around the region are now being cancelled because of the coronavirus.

“The unfortunate thing with the coronavirus coming along is that we were just gaining traction with all the events that were due to be held in the area and bring people in to town,” Mrs Randall explained.

“With all of those being cancelled it means there’s less people visiting and less people spending money.

“With the additional people having to not move around as much (because of the virus) its certainly going to have a further cash flow impact on businesses.”

Mrs Randall highlighted a variety of the arrangements being organised by the government including cash flow assistance for small businesses, extended write-offs for any purchases of equipment, and wage subsidies for people employing apprentices or trainees.

She also acknowledged that there are continual changes to the bushfire recovery funding, such as the $10k business grant that was announced last week, that businesses in the region can utilise.

“It’s important to let people know that they shouldn’t be trying to self assess for all of these funding arrangements,” Mrs Randall said, explaining how quickly the financial landscape is changing from day to day.

She said that all business owners should register with Service NSW, at least to get on the email list and be sent regular updates.

“They’ll still need to apply for any changes but they shouldn’t be self assessing and thinking, ‘well I wont be eligible,’ because its changing all the time.

“I also encourage businesses to be part of the Chamber as well because we’re providing updates; we get regular updates from government agencies, business agencies [and] from Council and we send that information through and those updates through to our members as well so that keeps them up to date.”

Mrs Randall said that the Small Business Commissioner has provided valuable resources online on their website.

Mrs Randall said that innovative thinking is the way forward during these uncertain times.

“At the moment we don’t know how this is going to unfold in the next day, week, let alone month, and its come on top of what’s happened with the bushfires, so potentially people need to be looking at the medium to long term and revisiting their business plans and thinking a bit innovatively about how they can still get sales without people coming in the doors, looking at potential for online marketing and those sorts of things.”