2020 presented many challenges for the district and the nation. However it also provided a great opportunity for different organisations to work together on the single focus of business survival and regeneration.
These included SWDC, SWIFT, Te Waka, Firestation, The Event Girl, and EMA.
SWIFT worked with Te Waka to promote the Regional Business Partners Covid assistance program which resulted in $175,000 in vouchers being taken up by local South Waikato businesses.
Moving very quickly, SWIFT set up a program and budget alongside SWDC with a focus on assisting local businesses. Rapid surveys were done to identify the most pressing areas of need and support required as well as how businesses were fairing. Fortunately, most respondents said they were going to be able to remain in business with only a small number looking to reduce staff numbers or close completely.
The programs included a series of seminars on a range of topics including access to external grants, resilience and wellbeing, financial planning, IRD provisions, pivoting strategy, and employment. Access was provided to specialist business coaches.
Covid 19 response was one of those areas where normal processes of research, strategy, project and funding just wouldn’t work given the urgency. And simply standing up and working together proactively helped give people the confidence to keep going.