As Southland prepares to move to Alert level 3, the initial regional economic impact of COVID-19 upon Southland businesses is being assessed.
Southland’s Regional Development Agency, Great South, is coordinating the region’s business and economic response to COVID-19, which has included establishing a Business Response Team who have so far called and surveyed over 600 Southland businesses.
Great South Chief Executive Graham Budd said the organisation was committed to supporting the region’s economic re-start and understanding the impact upon the business sector was critical to this.
“We have gained valuable initial insights into what is required to encourage resilience in our local business environment on the long road to re-establish the Southland economy. These insights not only provide direction for our region’s planning and response but also that of the Government,”
The Business Response Team have been able to coordinate referrals for specific support services across the region and connect businesses with the information and resources relating to COVID-19.
This work has been done in partnership with Southland Chamber of Commerce, the Ministry of Social Development, and other community and central government agencies.
The most cited areas of required support have been business strategy and planning, government support packages, financial, and mental health support.
In response to this, a new COVID-19 Business resources section has been established on the Great South website and the organization has scaled up support for businesses as part of its role within the Regional Business Partner Network.
This includes remotely connecting businesses with one-on-one expert advice, capability funding and facilitating a business mentors programme.
Great South GM for Business Services Ben Lewis said demand for business support had increased in response to COVID-19 and Great South was pleased to be able to address this through its connection to a range of support services.
“Through speaking directly with those in the business community, we have been able to identify and connect them with the valuable information, resources and tools that can help and have received great feedback on the support this is providing at this time,” he said.
The Business Response Team is continuing to survey Southland businesses with the information providing a strong foundation to help enable the region’s restart and rebuild.