Supporting local businesses may hold key to better disaster recovery
11 July 2022 at 5:35 pm
Is more support for local businesses the key to kick-starting flood recovery efforts?
Making sure local small and medium-sized businesses are supported financially can act as a key driver to a community-led recovery from natural disaster, according to the head of the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR).
CEO Natalie Egleton says small local businesses can play an integral part in the fabric of rural communities.
“Helping these businesses get on their feet is integral to creating a community-led recovery that is sustainable as the businesses are regularly involved in community sport and similar community-led activities,” she told Pro Bono News.
“Of course as charities, we cannot help them financially by law so it then becomes an issue for the government.
“When the local regional businesses are operational they will often be out there helping their community.”
Currently businesses can apply for a state-based $50,000 Small Business Grant and a $10,000 Small Business Northern Rivers Flood Grant. There are also individual, $130,000 concessional loans available through the National Disaster Declaration scheme.
Egleton, whose charity focuses on disaster preparedness, adds the positive psychological impact of seeing a local store opening helps everyone.
“Mental health will be a genuine problem in this region due to multiple natural disasters. The community should feel empowered and often well meaning people donating things they don’t need, with no consultation with locals, is actually quite demoralising and damaging,” she adds.
Utilising the expertise of business in the volunteering space
At the Emergency Management Conference held in Melbourne last week CEO of Australian Business Volunteers (ABV) Liz Mackinlay says local businesses are committed to their communities and often hold untapped resources.
“While farming, corporate banking and production line management sounds far from the traditional emergency management services mandate, I strongly believe that both local businesses and multinational corporations have much to offer and much to be gained if their skills and resources are put to strategic use,” she says.
“The difficulty is guiding this support and providing the business levers to harness it for much needed community impact.
“We need business to play a much larger role in recovery, and that means new efforts and programs to equip them with the strategy and tools to walk alongside communities for the long-haul and bring about the community resilience we now so clearly need.”
Director, strategy and impact at ABV Naomi Toole says the Australian government’s competitive grant processes currently risk undermining community-led recovery and social capital building efforts by pitting local groups, councils and businesses against each other.
“Cohesion between these bodies is vital for place-based planning and recovery efforts.
“Furthermore, the complexity of the application process combined with its short timeframes burdens an already exhausted community.
“When overly complex, the grant process itself risks diverting precious resources from much needed recovery efforts and placing additional stressors on the local community.”