The Illawarra's peak business organisation has called for urgency around a community vaccination program and for borders to remain open to best assist business sectors recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Business Illawarra applauded measures in the NSW budget saying "it appears that the state bottom line has weathered the pandemic storm and is projected to return to surplus in 2024-25".
However Business Illawarra's executive director Adam Zarth called for continued urgency by governments around the COVID-19 response.
"This better-than-expected state budget position would not be the case without the co-operative handling of COVID-19 within the state, and Business Illawarra pays tribute to our local health district, our frontline clinicians, affected businesses and the wider community," Mr Zarth said.
"However, Illawarra businesses in sectors such as hospitality, tourism, construction, aged care and disability support are experiencing pronounced workforce capacity issues, so we need a road map for the borders to reopen and for the community to be vaccinated as quickly as possible.
"Business Illawarra welcomes the funding of a pilot plan in the budget to return international students to the state, which would benefit the Illawarra given the significant contribution of international students to the local economy, its workforce and the community."
Mr Zarth said Illawarra businesses would appreciate ongoing payroll tax relief, the rate of which has been temporarily dropped from 5.45 per cent to 4.85 per cent for another year.
"Small businesses across the region will be relieved at the continuation of payroll tax measures, which will allow many of them to hire that extra staff member and avoid the additional administration involved as well," Mr Zarth said.
"Our region benefits from funding for significant road projects that will grow and benefit our economy by providing greater access to Port Kembla, the CBDs of Wollongong, Shellharbour, Albion Park and Nowra, and more rapid transit between them," he said.
"This budget contains the committed planning funding for the Picton Road Motorway that we campaigned for throughout last year, together with our members, with $14 million this year as part of $44 million committed over four years.
"We will work with government to inform this planning, and once it is completed we expect to see major funding for construction and, ultimately, a major improvement to the safety and connectivity between our region and Greater Western Sydney.
"As announced yesterday, complete funding of $300 million for the Mount Ousley Interchange that we have also advocated for has now been committed by both state and federal governments, and we see that starting to flow in this budget with $6.3 million to finalise planning.
"Other key projects funded in the budget include the Princes Highway south of Nowra to the Victorian border, the Nowra Bridge, and funding to complete the Albion Park Rail Bypass and the Berry to Bomaderry upgrade to the Princes Highway."
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