Friday, 17 April 2020

Mayor Rhys Williams said the Council's highest economic priority was to keep businesses afloat right now, and work with the business community on planning for a strong reboot on the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We're following the same path as State and Federal Governments, with a dual focus on ensuring our businesses can 'hibernate' through this period of strict restrictions, and ensure a strong local recovery when things begin to move again,” Mayor Williams said.

“Every day I am talking to local business owners who, like businesses across Australia, are well and truly feeling the devastating impacts of this pandemic.

“Businesses are faced with challenges well outside their control and for most, the best chance of survival is to basically hit the pause button now and get ready to reboot once we get the go-ahead from government.

“The City is working directly with our local businesses to help them during their hibernation and with a focus on rebooting once the various government restrictions have been lifted.”

The Mayor encouraged business owners to speak directly to the City about their immediate needs.
“Importantly, any business needing assistance, should call the City immediately to discuss their options and to explore any opportunities that may assist their survival now, and their recovery later. We are pulling our economic development resources into one group, and we‟re happy to assist,” Mayor Williams said.

Mayor Williams said Council had taken the obvious step of supporting a 0 percent rate increase for 2020-21, had waived any penalties on outstanding rates, and had waived or significantly reduced various City fees and charges and leases for businesses, also flagging that more announcements will be made as the City prepares its 2020-21 budget.

“We are working through the budget preparation right now, with a real focus on leading an ambitious economic reboot that focuses on increasing visitation to the region, supporting employment generating projects and encouraging a strong „buy local‟ sentiment,” he said.

The City also continues to assist businesses through fast-tracked approvals for varied trading conditions, and advocating to State Government for specific assistance including amended liquor licensing. It is also increasing security and CCTV monitoring to help minimise the risks for businesses that have had to close premises.

“Importantly, where possible, Council is fast-tracking any capital works and asset management projects to help ensure money is going back into the local economy,” Mayor Williams said.

“This means that post pandemic, our City will be transforming with key projects underway, so that we're ready to be back in business.

“Our local tourism arm, Visit Mandurah, and our Events Team are working with local operators on how to attract tourists and stimulate this part of our economy once people start travelling again.”

The Mayor said the City was continuing to work with key economic development partners, including Visit Mandurah, the Peel Development Commission, the Peel Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Federal Employment Facilitator, Regional Development Australia and local businesses to understand the impact of the pandemic on Mandurah businesses, coordinate support and wellbeing initiatives and to develop opportunities to stimulate the economy post-pandemic.

“At a grass roots level, there has been an awesome response from the community supporting local businesses who are now offering take-away menus and delivering services through alternate online formats,” he said.

“Buying local is more important now than ever and I congratulate Mandurah businesses for being innovative in their approach to these challenges and our local media, which continues to help promote the buy local message through this period.

“While there is no golden bullet that will fix this in the short term, we are a strong and resilient community and together we will help our local businesses rise once again.”

Information on support for businesses can be found on the City website at www.mandurah.wa.gov.au/covidbusiness and the Mandurah Community COVID-19 Response Plan can be found at www.mandurahmatters.com.au/covid.