Business comes to aid of flood-hit Queensland SMEs, but local economy still crippled
Australian businesses and the federal government are pledging money and services to help people in Queensland and New South Wales get back on their feet after the recent floods.
The government has announced clean-up and recovery grants of up to $25,000 for small businesses, primary producers and not-for-profit organisations in areas severely affected by flooding in Queensland.
This assistance is in addition to the support already available, including concessional loans of up to $250,000 for primary producers and small businesses.
The Australian Industry Group has built a database on its website where businesses are offering discounts and free services to help those affected in the floods and bushfires.
However, the deputy mayor of the flood-affected North Burnett region, Cr Faye Whelan, told SmartCompany the damage in the area was far more extensive than two years ago and more money was needed.
"I'd say all the businesses will take the grants up but it's not enough. It's helpful, but the extent of the damage means they need a lot more money than that.
"From the last flooding businesses took out loans and they can't take out more loans, what they really need is interest free loans," she says.
The loans are aimed to help primary producers cover costs such as repairing or replacing damaged plants and equipment, repairing or replacing buildings, purchasing livestock to replace those lost in the disaster event and re-planting, restoring or re-establishing areas affected by the disaster event.
The Ai Group's Industry Connection Directory currently has seven businesses listed offering discounts on a range of products including industrial fittings, storm water grates and building refurbishment.
The Ai Group database was first established following the 2011 Queensland floods to help in the recovery efforts.
Whelan says while the efforts of Australian businesses are appreciated, it actually places extra strain on local suppliers.
"If people don't buy local we will have no shops and businesses left – our shopping centres will close, as will our steel works and all the pump suppliers.
"I know people are being very kind, but they need to transfer their business through our local businesses or else they will be thoroughly disadvantaged for a number of years to come," she says.
Whelan says there are alternative options for people wanting to help out.
"What we need is for the people who are very kind and want to help to give the local suppliers the jobs, or else we prefer cash to be donated to the local funds, either the Bendigo Bank or local Mundubbera Lions Club," she says.
Whelan is a local business owner with stores in Gayndah and Mundubbera and says she's struggled personally from the effects of the floods.
"I've used my own money to prop up my businesses so I can keep them open and pay my staff. I've been in business for 40 years and I don't know how I will continue trading.
"This is just a personal example, all the other businesses are the same, even the ones who don't have water through their business have been greatly impacted," she says.
Despite the circumstances, Faye says they've received fantastic community support.
"It's been a concerted effort by everyone in the community, we've had wonderful support from QLD fire and rescue service, the Australian Army and the State Emergency Services and the wonderful band of council members," she says.