Supporting small businesses and retail precincts

The City of Melbourne is supporting small businesses and retail precincts through its $50 million COVID-19 Recovery Package.

Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the Recovery Package includes $18.9 million in residential and commercial rate relief and direct grants to small businesses.

“Our COVID-19 Business Concierge Hotline has connected 1600 businesses with information specific to their individual needs,” the Lord Mayor said.

“We’ve boosted resources to cater for 300 calls a day so every small business in the municipality can expect a call from the City of Melbourne to ensure they have the information and advice they need to adjust to the new trading conditions.”

The Lord Mayor said the draft Budget for 2020-21 included a funding boost for cleaning services in public spaces and to assist local businesses.

“We are investing $6 million in extra cleaning across our public areas to improve safety and bolster community confidence as more people return to our streets, laneways and parks. To provide more support to traders we will provide a free service to clean and sanitise door handles and other touch-point areas around their business, if requested,” the Lord Mayor said.

“We will collaborate with precincts to boost marketing to encourage people back into key commercial areas. We will also allocate $19 million in our budget to be spent on major events and festivals to attract people back into the city when the time is right.”

Small Business, Retail and Hospitality portfolio Chair Councillor Susan Riley said the City of Melbourne is investing in direct grants to keep Melburnians in jobs and stimulate our city’s economic recovery.

“We have more than 16,800 businesses, which are the heartbeat of our city. We have already provided $5 million in direct financial support for businesses to invest in online and e-commerce development, take part in training, and undertake capital works,” Cr Riley said.

“We know some ratepayers are doing it tough, so we’re offering rate support to those experiencing financial hardship at a cost of $18.9 million.

“Following the success of our recent virtual business summit, we will join industry in further roundtables to gather further feedback and help rebuild out city’s economy.

“I am looking forward to Melbourne’s retail sector returning to the vibrancy we all know and love.” 

Prosperous City portfolio Chair Kevin Louey said $625,000 will be invested in recognised precinct associations and the City of Melbourne can provide support with advertising in local areas.

“COVID-19 has shown how much we all rely on each other, especially our local shopkeepers. Our bricks and mortar stores need support as restrictions are eased,” Cr Louey said. 

“Local business owners and precinct association members know their local shopping strips and neighbourhoods better than anyone – and that’s why we’re investing directly in local initiatives.

“From Chinatown to Docklands, we’re doing everything we can to encourage people to shop local. We will provide up to $75,000 in funding to recognised business associations so they can support members with local business development and precinct activations.

“We’ve also waived fees for street trading and outdoor dining areas for three months at a cost of $700,000 to support hospitality businesses and retailers.”

Public submissions on the draft Annual Plan and Budget 2020-21 are open from Wednesday 19 May until 5pm on Wednesday 17 June 2020. 

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