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    Maria Whitford.

Greater Ararat Business Network calls for greater direction

An Ararat business group is calling for greater government acknowledgment of the role small business plays in socio-economic health.

Greater Ararat Business Network leaders will write to political leaders on the issue after expressing frustration and disappointment over the State Government’s ‘roadmap’ out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

GAB Network president Maria Whitford, while acknowledging a profound need for a plan to physically protect Victorians, said there was also a pressing need for a clearer economic roadmap to recovery.  

She said getting the formula to meet both would only come from political leaders developing a greater understanding of how connectivity between business and their communities worked, especially in regional areas.

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“There is a need for greater expansion of thought into an economic roadmap involving businesses,” she said.

“This roadmap has to extend for at least the next eight months if not longer. This has to be front-of-mind with our political leaders. 

“Small business is at the core of what happens in how well we make our way out of the pandemic. 

“It is not just about handing out financial incentives that might or might not work. 

“We need a process that has legitimate and profound guidelines that seriously help businesses cope and recover for the long term.”

Mrs Whitford said many district business leaders who hoped the government’s roadmap would offer some respite from restrictions, had been surprised and disappointed. 

“Some people won’t be opening for business any time soon under what Premier Daniel Andrews has announced,” she said.

“This came as a surprise considering pandemic circumstances in our broader region.

“But all we can do is come off this emotive rollercoaster and be confident to stand up and raise our voice again.

“Our argument has to be constructive and not emotive. 

“We obviously hit a roadblock in our lobbying, but we need to dust ourselves off as industry groups and mount new arguments. 

“We need to make it very clear that business is at the core of all socio-economic activity, health and wellbeing of communities. 

“There also obviously needs to be a clear government understanding about how regional business economies actually work. We’re unsure if this awareness prospers in Spring Street.

“The primary message for our members is that we need to stick together and be strong together.”

Regional Victoria is still in stage-three restrictions, limiting many business activities, but is in step two of a pandemic recovery schedule.

The government has declared that averages based on virus-testing data will provide the gauge for further easing of restrictions.

The entire September 16, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!