Colac Otway Shire Council has released a COVID19 economic stimulus package to help our community through the biggest challenge our shire has faced.
Council Chief Executive Peter Brown said Council’s new Business and Community Support Fund had been developed during the first wave of the COVID19 crisis, and it was now more important than anyone could have anticipated, as our community navigates Stage Three Restrictions for at least the next six weeks.
“Colac Otway is facing the biggest challenge our community has ever had to face and it’s vital that businesses impacted by COVID19 have opportunities to access the support available through this package,” Mr Brown said.
“The fund aims to help businesses adjust and transform their operations to keep afloat and continue to provide the services that are so valuable to our community.
“The package also provides funds for our community’s recovery when restrictions ease and we can welcome domestic travellers back to our stunning shire, and return to face-to-face shopping at our local retailers.
“Community groups can also gain inspiration with grants for new community arts projects, and our performing arts schools can plan for concert at COPACC in the future with subsidised access to our performing arts centre.
“A range of Council fees will be waivered for businesses and groups leasing Council facilities, and there is no increase in other Council fees and charges.
“Ratepayers who are unable to pay their rates because of the impact of COVID19 will not be charged interest on overdue rates through to December,” he said.
“Council’s Business and Community Support Fund totals about $950,000, and of that $670,000 has been allocated to directly support our local businesses and community groups that have been hardest hit by the pandemic.
- A $60,000 Business Diversification Grants program, offering grants up to $3000 to help local businesses pivot, survive and thrive.
- A $20,000 Small Arts Projects Grants program to enable local community groups, freelancers and creatives lift spirits and create hope in our community. Grants up to $3000 are available.
- A one-off COPACC Hire Assistance Grant to support local singing, dancing an acting schools to get back on the stage once it’s safe to do so.
- A $37,000 fund to provide lease relief to community and commercial tenants in Council properties.
- $172,000 for the waiver of food and health premises fees for the 2021 year.
- $48,000 towards the waiver of fees for A-frames, dining units, banners and square metres of goods.
- $30,000 towards a marketing campaign to encourage domestic visitors to visit the Otways and Apollo Bay once restrictions are lifted.
- $40,000 for buy local campaigns in Colac, Apollo Bay and our small towns
- $27,000 for an audit and study of all the event infrastructure in our shire. This will put us in a strong position to attract events in the future that boost our economy and provide wonderful social and cultural opportunities for our community.
- The provision of an interest-free grace period for late rate payments, to the value of $75,000
- Keeping all Council fees and charges the same level as 2019-20 – this support is valued at $100,000.