Illawarra businesses have welcomed the Federal Government's second stimulus package announced on Sunday as NSW prepares to go into coronavirus lock-down within 48 hours.
Hairdresser Melissa Gorgievski, from Charli & Kate, said the $20,000 small businesses will receive from April will help a lot of family businesses survive as trading grinds to a halt this week.
Charli & Kate employs 12 people including apprentices, full time and casual staff and Mrs Gorgievski wants to keep supporting them.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said all small businesses will get at least $20,000 while larger enterprises would receive up to $100,000 under the stimulus package, estimated to be worth $189 billion.
He said more lending was being made available to small and medium sized businesses from early April, providing "loans of up to $250,000 for up to three years for a business with a turnover of less than $50 million".
"No repayments will be required for at least three months. These will be unsecured loans and they will help build a bridge for small to medium sized businesses to the other side of the coronavirus," Mr Frydenberg said.
"And I urge all businesses to go and talk to their bank about these new opportunities".
Mrs Gorgievski said COVID-19 was a health issue as well as an economic one and improving hygiene was everyone's responsibility.
"We all need to keep washing our hands and making sure everything is sterilised and do the right thing by our customers," she said.
Mrs Gorgievski's father, long-time local businessman Lube Markovski, also praised the government's focus on workers facing bleak times ahead.
He said it was important staff would continue to be paid to get them through the tough times ahead.
Mr Markovski said their landlord at Wollongong Central, GPT, had been very understanding and willing to work with tenants during this uncertain time. "We need businesses not to panic".
Illawarra Business Chamber executive director Adam Zarth said the stimulus packaged showed the Federal Government was trying to prop-up businesses.
Mr Zarth said the second stimulus package included two key measures.
A wage subsidy of up to $100,000 to support businesses to retaining staff, which will be available in the form of two transfers. One of up to $50,000 to eligible small and medium businesses which will be available within weeks, with another $50,000 available in the new financial year. Eligibility criteria includes a maximum turnover of $50 million.
And bank loans of up to $250,000 which also be available with a six month repayment free period.
"These additional support measures now contain vital provisions for small businesses and sole traders which we called for last week," Mr Zarth said.
"It is clear the government is preparing the economy for a lengthy period of hardship and doing what it can to keep the wolf from the door of small businesses.
"I now view it as vital that alongside the government and banks, councils, utilities and commercial landlords must look at how they can ease conditions for small businesses too."
"It is critical that any businesses wondering what to do should access local financial advice and if in doubt contact us at the business chamber."
"I highly recommend that Illawarra businesses should speak to a local accountant sooner rather than later, and governments should be considering our proposal to fund $500 vouchers to facilitate this."
"We want to hear from businesses who are experiencing difficulties accessing these measures, as the implementation of these is just as important as the worthy intentions behind them".
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