The Southern Highlands Chamber of Commerce and Industry has urged businesses to explore online options to help them through the tough times created by COVID-19.
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The chamber chair Steve Horton has also called on the community to support local business wherever possible.
Meanwhile, one businessman said council should be doing more to help sustain businesses in the Highlands.
Arvo Pikkat said council should approve DAs and be shovel ready while things are quiet.
The push from both parties follows an announcement of a $700,000 relief package from Wingecarribee Shire Council.
The call to action follows a tough start to the year for businesses affected by bushfires and now the restrictions in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Southern Highlands Chamber of Commerce and Industry chairman Steven Horton said that now was the time to rally as a community.
"Businesses are shutting down everywhere," he said.
"At the moment there's a bit of confusion about who can and can't be open.
"It's very difficult to trade at the moment because people are being told not to travel. So more and more people are looking to be online.
"Some of the businesses that are doing well at the moment are businesses that are online."
Mr Horton said he had seen a number of businesses adapt to the changes.
"Even if businesses can't sell online, they need to have presence online and social media," he said.
"The good news is that they are trying to adjust to the new laws and restrictions but it's difficult.
"People need to buy online from our community and keep our community alive.
"Now is the time to rally as a community and support our businesses online."
The SHCCI have also set up a Facebook group called SHCCI 6 Degrees Connect to help connect businesses in the Highlands.
"Businesspeople can connect and advertise their business on there," Mr Horton said.
"I want businesses to relate to businesses and that's why we've done that."
"We want to promote our local business and encourage them to try other things if their bricks and mortar store fronts can't open.
"The community can only be a community if business and residents work together. Now is the time to stand together and support one another."
The silver lining for many businesses and residents impacted by COVID-19 is that they will now be able to put off paying their rates for the next six months under a financial support package announced by Wingecarribee Shire Council.
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The rates deferral for businesses and residents is part of an estimated $700,000 suite of measures announced by Mayor Duncan Gair and general manager Ann Prendergast.
"We're acutely aware that many businesses across our shire have had to either reduce the services they normally offer, temporarily close or even lay off staff as this crisis continues to unfold," Cr Gair said.
"These measures are designed to help alleviate the financial burden on those businesses and residents hardest hit as a result of the COVID-19 emergency and provide them with one less issue to worry about."
General manager Ann Prendergast said council's support plan was designed to build on the measures already announced by the State and Federal Governments.
"Our package is specifically designed to help local residents, community groups and businesses," she said.
Council's initial COVID-19 community and business financial support package includes:
- Rates deferred for all business-rated properties for the next six months starting April 1 2020. This will apply where the property owner runs a business from the premise or provides a rent deferral period for business tenants.
- Rates deferred for all property owners who have lost employment or been stood down due to the Federal Government's enforced business closures for the next six months. Three year repayment period provided.
- Removal of all interest charges on overdue rates and charges (including water and sewer) for a period of 12 months commencing April 12020.
- Provision of rental subsidy for six months for Council-owned properties which are occupied by a small business or organisation impacted by the Federal Government's enforced business closures.
- Provision of fee reduction for all outdoor dining areas, materials on footpaths and environment and health inspections commencing April 1 2020 for a period of six months.
In addition to the above measures council will also suspend all existing debt recovery actions on outstanding rates and charges until the pandemic has passed.
"We also know that this crisis is affecting everybody differently and I'd remind our ratepayers of our Financial Hardship Policy which allows us to look at individual circumstances on a case-by-case basis," Ms Prendergast added
Developer Arvo Pikkat feels that council needs to do more to stimulate the economy.
"In my opinion we are at a crisis point," he said.
"So many people are going through a tough hardship and they want to see something proactive done and see money put in the local economy."
A Wingecarribee Shire Council spokesperson said that council had no control of shovel ready developments within the private sector apart from approving development applications and construction certificates.
"As to when developments proceed is entirely at the hands of the owner of the development consent," they said.
Businesses or residents wishing to apply for council's COVID-19 Economic Relief Package or discuss their individual circumstances should call council's Revenue Team on phone 4868 0888.
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