City to provide $100,000 in economic grants

Wednesday, 27 May 2020 

The City of Bunbury will provide $100,000 in economic grants to support local small business and industry organisations to help with business continuity beyond COVID-19.

Bunbury City Council this week endorsed allocating funds to both a Small Businesses Support Grant Scheme and an Industry Organisation Support Grant initiative.

The small business grants will deliver direct financial support to local small businesses to innovate, adapt and foster business continuity and increase business capabilities to assist with economic recovery in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

There will be a total of $75,000 in funding available from this pool with Bunbury businesses eligible for a one-off grant of up to $3500 (ex GST).

The City will also provide $25,000 in industry organisation grants for a one-off grant of up to $5000 (ex GST) for eligible organisations.

Bunbury Mayor Gary Brennan said it was hoped the grants programs would provide some relief for businesses and organisations in their recovery.

“It is clear the COVID-19 pandemic has hit our businesses hard and these grants will deliver direct financial support for those businesses to innovate, adapt and foster business continuity,” Mayor Brennan said.

“City staff have been in contact with business owners and managers across a number of sectors to gauge where help is needed, and I believe this model will go a long way in helping.”

The grants will distribute funding support for one of the following projects or activities:

  • Business Model Adaptation;
  • Online and E-commerce;
  • Training and Professional Development;
  • Capital Works – Storefront Improvements.  

To be eligible for either grant, applicants must be able to meet a number of criteria including being a for-profit organisation with paid staff and evidence they have been negatively impacted by the pandemic.

Businesses and organisations should review all criteria through the SmartyGrants program, which will be used for lodgement of both grant applications, assessments and related correspondence.

The grants are part of the City’s Relief and Recovery Plan and come after the City last month contacted more than 260 businesses to gain insight into what they had experienced in relation to COVID-19.

Of those contacted, 141 agreed to participate in the confidential survey with a multitude of business sectors, trades and industries represented in the data collected.

Results showed that 86 per cent of businesses remained open and operating, and of those that closed 60 per cent said it was due to government restrictions with the remainder of closures due to various “self-made” decisions such as viability, staff availability or health/safety concerns.

Of the businesses still open, 61 per cent experienced a negative impact upon business, while 8 per cent saw a positive impact and 31 per cent noted no impact.

In response to COVID-19, 68 per cent of respondents had to address staffing by way of reduction, 33 per cent indicated they had to “let go” of staff, while 24 per cent cut staff hours and five per cent requested staff to take leave.

The survey showed that the top four initiatives identified to assist businesses included:

  • Connection with other like‐minded businesses;
  • marketing advice and workshop/s (both activities business associations and CCI’s would normally address);
  • online transition advice and assistance;
  • and operating in a digital economy workshop/s. 

A total of 71 per cent indicated they were confident of returning to normal business should restrictions be eased.

The funding rounds will be open until 30 July 2020 or until all allocated funds are exhausted.

Applications are now open via SmartyGrants