Major businesses in need of help urge government to reconsider size and scope of proposed packages, to better support recovery and help safeguard the economic future of Lismore.
Four major businesses and employers in the Northern Rivers region have united in a last ditch call for help from both the state and federal governments, calling for an increase of funding and expanded guidelines, as details around the Anchor Business Support Package announced by the Coalition more than three months ago remain unclear.
The bosses of Norco, Summerland Credit Union and Mountain Blue Farms, three major employers in region, have joined forces with Lismore Mayor Steve Krieg to spotlight the very real impacts of the information delays and funding limitations on their people, their businesses, and the wider Northern Rivers community; an initiative that is also supported by Sunshine Sugar.
Despite the guidelines for funding being recently released, there remains no further steps or information on how to apply, leaving many Lismore businesses in a state of limbo and unable to plan for the future.
With questions around the size and scope of funding, the $44 million currently being proposed is simply not enough to support the needs of the major businesses, nor the wider Lismore business community.
The plea also calls for greater assistance for other businesses that fall outside the guidelines of ‘Anchor Business’, but have also suffered significant damage and loss.
The deadline for Norco
Michael Hampson, Norco Chief Executive comments that due to the extent of damage to their ice cream facility, they knew early on that they would need government support in order to recover and safeguard jobs, which is why they moved so quickly in having conversations with key decision makers.
“We are extremely grateful for the support received to date which has kept our workforce of 240 people gainfully employed for 16 weeks since the floods took place and enabled us to contribute significantly to the cleanup and rebuild of the Lismore community.
“However, that funding is due to end on July 15 and in the absence of any further details from the federal government, and confirmation that the state government won’t be contributing to any support package, we’ve been forced to make some very difficult business decisions,” he says.
The future of Lismore relies on greater government support
Lismore Mayor, Steve Krieg fully supports the businesses in calling for greater assistance from both the federal and NSW state governments.
“The future of Lismore and indeed its full economic recovery relies heavily on investment and commitment from businesses, especially these anchor businesses which are not only major employers in region but contribute significantly to economic activity throughout the Northern Rivers.
“Without them, the future of Lismore and its economic rehabilitation is certainly at risk, which is why support and funding from both levels of government is so crucial; in fact, the future of Lismore relies on it.
“The reality is, to adequately support the needs of these businesses and safeguard jobs, the Anchor Business Support Package needs to be at least double what it currently is, and the NSW state government needs to contribute.
“So today I join these businesses in calling on both levels of government to step up, and to prioritise and deliver on this funding that is so crucial to the future of Lismore and its people,” he concludes.
Michael Hampson adds that Norco has been part of the Lismore community for more than 127 years, and that they’re committed to seeing the community thriving once again.
“This relies heavily on all of our businesses being able to rebuild and recover, which is why we’re here today – fighting so hard for our people, our farmers, the many businesses that rely on us to survive, as well as the future of the Lismore and Northern Rivers community,” he concludes.