The South West Development Commission is providing local chambers of commerce and associations with the critical funding they need to continue helping small businesses through the challenging times brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Twelve chambers of commerce and associations in the South West will each receive a $5000 grant from the State Government agency in recognition of the valuable work they do supporting local businesses.
The funding announcement comes after chambers around WA reported a loss of income from memberships and events, threatening their long-term viability.
SWDC chief executive officer Mellisa Teede said the Commission understood the pressures faced by the organisations and was pleased to provide relief in the South West.
“We are aware of the vital work carried out by the chambers and business associations and want to help them support their local business communities,” Ms Teede said.
“SWDC support is reinforcing the business support network right across the South West. We want businesses to come through this crisis, to keep people in jobs and to underpin their local economies.
“It is about supporting chambers so they can support local businesses.”
Funding from SWDC will be directed towards small business support, business recovery and stimulus measures, and follows consultation with the Regional Chambers of Commerce and Industry (WA) and the other eight regional development commissions.
Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan announced state-wide funding on Monday May 4.
The assistance has been welcomed by grant recipients, with the volunteer-led Augusta Chamber of Commerce (ACC) among those grateful for the support having waved membership fees for the next six to 12 months.
“The funding from SWDC is vital to the survival of our chamber and allowing us to support small businesses going forward,” ACC chair Andrea Lindsay said.
Donnybrook Balingup Chamber of Commerce executive officer Karen Martella said the funding from SWDC was “incredibly valuable”.
“We are predicting that our usual revenue streams will evaporate in the next 12 months as small businesses struggle to keep up with the changes that are happening as a result of COVID-19,” Ms Martella said.
“We are waiving membership fees for the next six months in order to try and support local businesses without a fee attached at this difficult time.
“We are working on a project to promote “Shop Local” and get businesses the patronage they desperately need due to current financial strains.
“We also want to offer personalised and individual support by employing someone to make contact with all local businesses and direct them to financial support and information, grant funding and any other support that will help them to remain viable.”
Pemberton Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Ardal Nigg said the funding would allow the Chamber to offer free membership to businesses this year.
“With this, we can grow in strength and representation and help our economy back on its feet,” Mr Nigg said.
Margaret River Chamber of Commerce and Industry executive officer Annie McFie said the funding couldn’t have come at a better time.
“We are currently working on a ‘Business Tool Kit and E-portal’ for our website which will assist our businesses in upskilling and preparing for re-opening when COVID-19 restrictions are eased,” Ms McFie said.
“We have been working around the clock to assist our businesses in accessing the Government stimulus funding and we are now focusing our attention on assisting businesses to meet the criteria of this package.
“The funding from SWDC will mean that we can put this plan into action and provide much needed support and resources for our local businesses.”
Bunbury Geographe Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive officer Mark Seaward said the Chamber recognises and thanks the State Government for the financial support coming from the SWDC.
“The Chamber is committed to working with the SWDC to develop opportunities for economic recovery and getting people back to work,” Mr Seaward said.
The Commission will continue to work with the business community over the crucial coming months, with a roundtable focused on economic recovery among the activities slated for the near future.
Augusta Chamber of Commerce – $5000
Bunbury Geographe Chamber of Commerce and Industry – $5000
Busselton Chamber of Commerce and Industry – $5000
Capel Chamber of Commerce – $5000
Collie Chamber of Commerce and Industry – $5000
Donnybrook Balingup Chamber of Commerce – $5000
Dunsborough Yallingup Chamber of Commerce and Industry – $5000
Manjimup Chamber of Commerce and Industry – $5000
Margaret River Chamber of Commerce and Industry – $5000
Pemberton Chamber of Commerce and Industry – $5000
Bridgetown Greenbushes Business and Tourism Association – $5000
BigN – Business Initiative Group Nannup – $5000