NSW gives $14m for SME advisory to get through Covid-19

NSW gives $14m for SME advisory to get through Covid-19

The NSW Government is injecting $14 million into a small business advisory program to help company owners get through the Covid-19 pandemic.

On Sunday, Minister for Finance and Small Business Damien Tudehope said Business Connect would have additional advisors to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) navigate this challenging time.

"As part of this funding boost we've allocated $4.6 million to engage an additional 30 advisors to support businesses, on top of $9.8 million to ensure the program continues for another 12 months," Tudehope said.

"Business Connect is a powerful tool, with advisors having assisted more than 28,000 businesses over the past three years, providing advice and skills training for small businesses.

"Business owners have reported increased confidence, stronger finances, and developed plans for their business. We've also seen these businesses create and support  more than 15,000 additional jobs since 2017."

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the funding would support Business Connect until June 2021, giving NSW businesses the tools they need to stay in business, rethink their model and boost their digital presence.

"Business Connect was on the front foot, rolling out targeted support and Small Business Bushfire Information Sessions in regional areas following the recent bushfires," Perrottet said.

"As a result of Covid-19, more than 60 webinars are available through Business Connect to support businesses in developing a road map for success and managing cash flow amid challenging conditions.

"In addition, a series of Covid-19 Business Information Session webinars with representatives from various government agencies will be rolled out soon, to provide information about stimulus and support initiatives.

"Businesses impacted by COVID-19 and bushfires will be able to access the webinars and receive advice free-of-charge."

The State Government has also announced a $140 million Bushfire Industry Recovery Package to support forestry, horticulture and agriculture industries impacted by the recent bushfires.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Deputy Premier and Minister responsible for Disaster Recovery John Barilaro said the package will help industries significantly impacted by bushfires to rebuild, recover, regrow and remain the heartbeat of regional economies.

"This funding will support the recovery and resilience of key industries by backing projects that retain and create jobs, strengthen local supply chains and support a return to production," the Premier said.

"Regional NSW relies on these key driver industries to help generate jobs and economic activity and this funding will provide the direct help many businesses need to recover from devastating losses, which in turn will help their wider industry remain viable."

Barilaro said regional NSW is the backbone of this state and it is critical to support the key regional industries which keep our economy thriving.

"Our farmers feed this state and this nation, and not only have they endured the worst drought on record, but many have suffered horrific bushfires and now COVID-19 is affecting our regional economies," Barilaro said.

"Bushfire impacted towns cannot afford to suffer further job losses and economic downturn, which is why we are delivering this funding to keep our key regional industries in business.

"Industries with the greatest impact will be given the greatest share of this funding. The program will focus on recovery in the short term and will support valuable investments to help these sectors plan for recovery in the longer term."

Details of funding criteria including amounts available for businesses under this package will be made available with the release of program guidelines in the coming weeks.

Other bushfire support measures include the NSW and Australian governments sharing the cost for the clean-up of residential and small business properties, the NSW Government's $1 billion fund to replace vital state infrastructure, $75,000 grants for bushfire affected primary producers and $50,000 grants for bushfire affected small businesses.

Related story: NSW Government announces $10,000 fast relief for small businesses

Updated at 9:55am AEST on 20 April 2020.

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