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Business leaders unite to tackle effects of Covid-19 on local businesses

A meeting of business leaders, Chamber of Commerce, councillors and council staff via video link was convened.  The meeting was held to respond to the growing hurt felt by local businesses due to the measures to control the rapid spread of Covid-19.  The meeting has set in place priorities and actions for short and long term business continuity and sustainability.

Armidale Regional Council Mayor Cr Simon Murray said the overwhelming theme from leaders in attendance is that we must stick together and keep local business front of mind for consumers.

“We know that the Armidale region business community is hurting and Council understands the huge financial pressures being placed on business owners and staff,” said Cr Murray.

“Council will play a role in minimising the impact of Covid-19 on businesses during the necessary forced shutdowns and home isolation. But there is no doubt this is having a profound effect on consumer confidence with more hurt for businesses and the community in the coming weeks.”

The meeting chaired by Cr Andrew Murat identified short, medium and long term actions which are now being critically examined by working groups that include the Council for implementation.

Council staff will be fast tracking the construction of the new Business Hub in the old Armidale Library Building to be ready and operational once the Covid-19 crisis has subsided and to support business recovery and new initiatives.

The business hub will be a one-stop-shop for the business community and new start-up ventures will have a centralised place to assist them. Planners, building development and other business facing Council staff will all be located in the business hub and rooms will be available to encourage business collaboration.

Armidale Business Chamber President Anthony Fox said the effects of Covid-19 have already been very severe for a number of businesses and it is likely to get worse,” said Mr Fox.

“The first responsibility though is public health. I don’t want to minimise that for one second. Health and business are of course intrinsically intertwined. This is the challenge.

“Today’s meeting has provided the opportunity for business people to come together and share their concerns and ideas to help sustain business during and after the Covid-19 crisis.

“Working Groups will now been formed to allow further opportunity for ideas to be shared and guidance from business people on what Council can do immediately and in the long term to support consumer confidence in local businesses.”

The meeting was an initiative of the Regional Growth and Activation Committee which also includes Councillor Diane Gray and Councillor Peter Bailey.

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