Supporting local businesses through COVID crisis

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Mornington Peninsula Shire Council has today released a comprehensive plan to support local businesses struggling to stay afloat due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The Business Support Actions Roadmap is the result of ongoing work with local business groups, chambers of commerce and individual business owners across the Peninsula.

Mayor Sam Hearn said: “We’ve been working intensely with local businesses and we all agree on the need to find every way possible to allow businesses to maximise their revenue over summer.”

“The extension of lockdown has come as a blow to local businesses who’d been pinning their hopes on an easing of restrictions next week and has added further urgency to the work we’ve been doing to support them.

“I want to assure everyone in our community the Shire is doing all it can to support our vulnerable residents and shore up our local economy during this time.

“Our CEO John Baker and I have had numerous conversations with the Victorian Government, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Regional Tourism Board and we will continue to advocate strenuously on behalf of our local businesses.

“Recovery will be a long haul and we will continue to listen to the business community and look at what we can do as a Shire to help accelerate our economy out of this crisis.”

Mt Eliza Chamber of Commerce President Trish Stamp said: Mt Eliza Chamber of Commerce welcomes the Mornington Peninsula Shire’s range of initiatives to support small businesses throughout these incredibly difficult months.”

“In particular, the Chamber is delighted to be working with the Shire and businesses on the creation of temporary ‘parklets’ in shopping precincts to enable cafes and restaurants to expand their outdoor dining.

“These parklets in particular will make a significant financial difference to our small hospitality venues, possibly even saving some of them from closure.”

Roadmap initiatives include:

  • A new Parklets Program, which involves repurposing part of the street outside shopfronts for extra outdoor dining and public space. This will help local cafes and restaurants cope with social distancing restrictions when on-site dining is permitted.
  • Making extended footpath space available to retail businesses, as well as cafes and restaurants. This includes access to grassed areas where they adjoin businesses.
  • A new funding program for local chambers of commerce and business groups to develop community-lead economic recovery activities for their own business communities. Details to be announced.
  • Extension of the Shire’s Hardship Policy available to all rateable properties and sundry debtors on application and includes no interest on any outstanding balances for the remainder of 2020. It provides flexible payment arrangements for people and businesses that have a reduced financial capacity.
  • Fast tracking of certain planning approvals – assistance for businesses to diversify. Fast tracking temporary change of use applications to within four business days.
  • Reducing fees and charges

    Council has reduced, waived or deferred many Shire fees and charges including:

    • Food and health businesses
      • Have received a 50 per cent refund on 2020 registration fee.
      • 2021 registrations for affected businesses deferred until March.
      • Outdoor dining fees for businesses serving liquor waived March to 31 December 2020.
      • Footpath trading fees deferred until 31 December 2020 (this also includes retailers).
      • Itinerant traders’ fees waived until October 2020.
    • Tourism
      • Short stay rental accommodation providers can suspend their registration.
      • Commission fee reduced by 50 per cent for bookings through the Visitor Information Centre for 2020–21.
    • Other
      • Lease payment waivers/deferrals for commercial tenants of Council-owned facilities.
      • Non-commercial sporting clubs lease/licence fees waived for 2020–21.
  • Supporting local business by procuring goods and services locally at every opportunity and increasing tender criteria, giving a 30 per cent weighting for benefit to the local economy.
  • Expediting payments to active suppliers and contractors wherever possible.
  • A Business concierge service, providing a one-stop-shop service for local businesses affected by COVID-19.
  • Online business workshops on a range of topics. Since the start of COVID-19 restrictions hundreds of businesses have taken part.
  • Providing businesses with virtual online mentoring through the Small Business Mentoring Service.
  • Developing a package of shovel ready projects to advocate to State and Federal Government for investment. The package will create 4,771 jobs and deliver projects valued at $320.8 million. Included in the package:
    • a new technology park
    • recycled water
    • The Briars
    • the Bay Trail
    • community and sporting facilities
    • oour homeless people.
  • Funding Finder a free online service that enables individuals, businesses and community organisations to easily identify and access funding opportunities from local, state and federal governments, as well as philanthropic grant programs (including COVID-19 funding opportunities) in one place.
  • Continuing to keep our business community informed of changes to business restrictions, initiatives and grants and online business resources via our dedicated e-newsletter and business website.
  • State Government-issued thermometers distributed to accommodation businesses according to State Government requirements.
  • Development of Our Active Peninsula website to promote sport and recreation clubs and businesses encouraging people to get and stay active while in restrictions.
  • A new Arts and Culture website, which provides an opportunity for local artists to promote their work and connect with audiences online.

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