Business advisers get funding boost

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New government funding will help clear a backlog of about 600 Otago businesses who have registered for advisory services.

Otago Regional Business Partner Network business growth manager Tara Druce, of Alexandra, said a further $40 million for the Covid-19 Business Advisory Fund was like going from hand tools to power tools.

A first injection of Covid-19 funding in March of $15 million for the country had enabled over 500 businesses in Otago to gain business advice.

Business owners could access up to $5000 of services, however it was up to Regional Business Partner Network growth advisers to assess and allocate how much each could receive.

There had been ‘‘huge demand’’ for the first $15 million Covid-19 fund across the country.
By about May, that fund had been allocated and about 600 Otago businesses were ‘‘in the queue’’ but yet to be supported.

Ms Druce encouraged businesses to register for funding but priority would go to clearing the backlog.
‘‘Just understand that we’ve got 600 businesses in our queue that we need to get through first.’’
The Regional Business Business Partner Network was funded half by Callaghan Innovation and half by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, and the Otago Chamber of Commerce had the contract to deliver the scheme locally.

Most of the team were based in Dunedin, but the additional funding would mean they would be able to scale up in the regions, Ms Druce said.
‘‘So the priority is to grow our team a bit over the next couple of weeks to be able tosupport that pipeline of 600 and make those phone calls and get the money out the door.’’

Between July 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020, $840,000 of Covid-19 advisory funding and $195,000 of management capability funding had been allocated in the Otago region.
‘‘We also facilitated business support webinars during lockdown that reached 1000 businesses,’’ she said.

While it had been a difficult time for some, many businesses had been exploring ways to innovate including a focus on research and development, new technology, online commerce and developing new business models for domestic and overseas markets.
Business needs were changing quite rapidly, and the aim was to get the funding out the door in the next three to four months, Ms Druce said.