Mr Gunner on Monday pledged $50 million to help territory businesses survive the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, judging that the “extreme measures” that are necessary to control the spread of the virus “will have an impact on our local businesses and workers”.
The package, labelled the Small Business Survival Fund, is specifically targeted to support industries such as hospitality, restaurants, tourism and entertainment businesses who are bearing the brunt of this national crisis.
The fund has three goals, Mr Gunner explained: to help businesses brave the partial or full shutdown period, to help them take advantage of the new consumer environment, and to prepare to take advantage of the rebounding economy when the crisis finally ends.
Revealing that the grant program will be open for applications from Friday, 27 March, Mr Gunner confirmed that the Department of Business, Trade and Innovation will release further information this week on the application processes and criteria.
“The department will also actively reach out to directly affected businesses to discuss their suitability for support from this fund, as well as the other support that is now available from both the territory government and the federal government,” Mr Gunner added.
The Northern Territory previously announced a $65 million Jobs Rescue and Recovery Package and a $2 million Tourism Resilience Package. The latest package brings its investment in the coronavirus response to $120 million.
Mr Gunner said: “We will continue to scale up to save jobs.
“We will do whatever it takes to protect Territorians.”
A big part of the territory’s jobs rescue plan is helping small businesses undertake improvements and changes to their shops to bring in customers and help them keep their staff in jobs, with $20 million earmarked for this purpose.
The scheme works by providing all eligible businesses with $10,000; however, if the recipient also wants to put in their own $10,000, they will then get an additional $10,000 from the government, creating a $30,000 value.
“Each eligible territory business has the opportunity to undertake $30,000 of renovations which has a positive flow-on effect,” Mr Gunner said.
“This spend reinvigorates businesses, attracts more customers and keeps our tradies in work, which means more money being spent in our local hospitality outlets.”
Businesses can also opt for help in adapting to the consumer change which is currently happening. This means getting businesses online or upgrading their online presence through the $5 million Business Structural Adjustment Package.
“This spend is simple — it’s about jobs, not cuts. It’s about saving people’s jobs and keeping the doors of our small territory businesses open,” Mr Gunner said.