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North Canterbury tourism and hospitality businesses have been the most active in applying for support since the Covid-19 lockdown, according to data from local economic development agency Enterprise North Canterbury (ENC).
Of the 430 businesses that ENC has supported in the last five weeks through the Regional Business Partner (RBP) programme, 21% (96) of those were tourism and hospitality businesses – a figure that is no surprise given the latest data from StatsNZ which shows electronic card spend at New Zealand hospitality businesses fell 95% ($814 million) compared with April 2019. March 2020 spend also saw a drop of 29% ($266 million) compared with the year before.
North Canterbury trades and service businesses made up 18% of businesses seeking support from ENC, followed by retail (15%), food & beverage producers, professional services, construction, manufacturing, ‘other’, property, art and recreation, primary industry then wholesale and distribution.
ENC Business Support Manager Miles Dalton says the ENC Business Support team has been flat-out since lockdown began, connecting local business operators across all industries to the most appropriate support or funding for their individual situation.
“As soon as lockdown happened, our team was rushed off its feet,” he explains. “All our local businesses were thrown into a very difficult position – almost overnight – and we were in a position to help them through this.”
ENC CEO, Heather Warwick, redirected all ENC staff to the front line of supporting local businesses.
“We are a small team but by working together to face businesses in need we can achieve so much more. This is a very stressful time for all business owners and their staff. It is our role to help connect them to the right advice, services and funding available to them as well as being a sounding board for their specific concerns.”
In addition to the RBP Covid-19 Advisory Fund, the ENC Professional Services Grant has been available to local businesses since mid-April. The ENC Board introduced the grant to enable North Canterbury businesses to get immediate professional advice to review their cashflow forecast for the coming months so they can make informed and essential decisions. To date, 57 North Canterbury businesses have drawn down $400 each (a total of $22,800) from this fund.
Heather says this fund is for a limited time and a limited amount. “ENC encourages all North Canterbury and Kaikōura businesses to reach out and grab this opportunity with both hands,” she said.
“Having the ENC Professional Services Grant as well as access to the RBP Covid-19 Advisory Fund has been fantastic. But we’ve also worked hard to connect businesses to other support services, free webinars and key information from the government to help get them through this unprecedented situation.”
“It’s no surprise that tourism and hospitality have been actively seeking support; with no visitors to speak of, these businesses instantly felt the effects of the pandemic. But our other industries have also been active in contacting us as they, too, feel the strain. We encourage businesses to continue to take advantage of all the services and funding that ENC can offer as we enter Level 2 and beyond. We are here to support businesses in any way that we can.”