This article first appeared in the print edition of the Tumut and Adelong Times on 14 July 2020.
CEO of Harvey Norman and BizRebuild advisory committee member, Katie Page, visited Tumut on the weekend.
BizRebuild is a five year business led initiative developed by the Business Council of Australia to provide practical and on the ground assistance to small and local businesses left devastated by the Black Summer bushfires of 2019/20.
The Harvey Norman pop-up opened on April 12 on Wynyard Street after Tumut Regional Chamber of Commerce president Natalie Randall approached BizRebuild about helping find a way to meet the demand for a white goods and electronic store because residents have had to travel as far as Wagga or Canberra to buy basic needs, like a fridge.
BizRebuild spoke to Ms Page as a committee member who got straight to work and opened the pop-up.
“Harvey Norman has been proud to support BizRebuild because we know that business is crucial to sustaining resilient local communities,” Ms Page said.
Ms Page visited the pop-up on Saturday alongside her husband Gerry Harvey, executive chairman of Harvey Norman, to explore long-term opportunities for the region.
For local Batlow business owner David McEwan, the impact of the bushfires has been extraordinary. During the fires his local café was cut off from power, costing him thousands in lost stock, made worse by a decline in visitors.
“The bushfire was tough on our business, made worse by corona restrictions, because we couldn't welcome people to our beautiful town,” Mr McEwan said.
“This voucher will help us meet with our accountant to reassess our finances and make sure we come out of this stronger so we can continue to play a role in this community.”
The Business Council’s BizRebuild initiative will reach a milestone this weekend, having handed out one million dollars in direct assistance to bushfire ravaged communities since the beginning of the year.
BizRebuild’s voucher program has helped more than 770 businesses and their workers stay afloat, keep people employed and local economies ticking over, Business Council chief executive Jennifer Westacott said.
“Giving businesses the chance to re-tool and re-equip themselves quickly means they can get back to work quickly and keep workers in jobs,” Ms Westacott said.
BizRebuild chair Sir Peter Cosgrove said the program was crucial to keeping local communities strong as they deal with the double blow caused by this year’s bushfires and the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Whether it is bushfires or global pandemics, we need businesses to pull through and keep communities alive and that’s why building resilience is absolutely crucial,” Sir Cosgrove said.
“In the wake of bushfires it was clear we needed to solve the immediate problem of cash flow, so that’s exactly what we did.”
Eligible businesses can claim either a $2,000 re-tooling voucher to replace tools and equipment lost in the bushfire, or a $500 service voucher to cover the cost of important local advisory services such as accounting or legal advice.
To further assist with immediate relief efforts, BizRebuild has sent ‘flying squads’ of business recovery, financial, mental health and other experts into many affected communities to help locals plan for their recovery.
BizRebuild is designed to run for five years specifically to help businesses recover to create jobs, rebuild stronger communities and restore thriving local economies. On top of immediate on the ground relief, a number of recovery and rebuilding projects are underway to build and maintain long-term resilience.
Eligible businesses who are looking for assistance can email firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more visit: www.bizrebuild.com.au.