This page contains a column by Mayor Sheryl Mai about how everyone can support Northland Businesses in their economic recovery after COVID-19.
27/04/2020 12:00 a.m.
We shared a poignant experience at dawn on Saturday with many others in our community, standing at our gate for this year’s ANZAC remembrance.
We listened to the Last Post in the dark and reflected on those who served during the many conflicts New Zealand has been involved in. This unusual ANZAC remembrance is another example of our adaptation to the conditions we face under the COVID-19 Level 4 lockdown.
Tonight, we move into Level 3 lockdown. I have no doubt our District will transition into Level 3 with the same spirit of manaakitanga that we’ve shown to date - with respect, care, kindness and support for everyone in our community.
We need to be aware of local businesses during this transition. As a community, it is essential that we show support for Northland businesses as much as we can, where possible through online ordering and local service provision. Now is the time to do our bit to help these hard-hit businesses and their employees, our neighbours. We have the power to choose how we want our local economy to look in the future and I urge you to ‘click local’.
From a Council perspective, we’re doing what we can to ensure the local economy comes out of COVID-19 with a healthy foundation for the ‘re-start’. Our Whangarei Economic Recovery Response, released 14 April, explains how Council is approaching the COVID-19 economic recovery.
Within the 10-point response, we have emphasised our commitment to partnering with Northland Inc and NorthChamber to facilitate on-the-ground practical support for small and medium businesses. What does this mean?
In our partnership with Northland Inc, more than 250 Northland businesses have already received help via the Northland Inc Business Support Helpline (0800 525 001). The calls are coming from a wide range of sectors, including tourism, food and beverage, agriculture, manufacturing and construction.
In the first days of operation, this was more about ensuring businesses were able to access Government support in order to make payroll. Since then, Northland Inc has told us that key concerns among business owners include business continuity, wage and leave subsidy advice, business cash flow and tax relief, and health and wellbeing.
We are also considering the mid-to-long-term impact of COVID-19 on infrastructure needs, and district and community development. We’re reviewing Council policies, works programmes and assessing the best way for us to add value to our community.
Council has submitted a significant list of worthy projects for consideration by the Crown Infrastructure Partners (CIP) for co-investment with Government, projects that would provide employment as well as infrastructure to benefit our community for years to come. We need to look at creating more employment within our District, as New Zealand’s unemployment rate rises. Before COVID-19, Northland had made solid progress reducing youth unemployment. We will draw on that experience to help address the issues we now face.
My message to local businesses right now is this: seek help from your business professionals or networks as soon as possible and use this time to prepare for the post-COVID landscape.
And for the rest of us - again, please use local services and products whenever possible, let’s show our businesses how much we care.