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Photo by Destination Queenstown

Helping businesses access support and funding during the pandemic

Business South —

It has been another tough year for many businesses in the south, and Otago Regional Business Partners (RBP) have been working hard to help thousands of these businesses access the support they need.

Demand has increased exponentially for the services Otago RBP provides, with more than 3,800 businesses accessing these services since Covid-19 emerged in New Zealand. The team has distributed more than $3 million to southern businesses this year alone.

The team has grown from 2.5 FTEs who previously supported around 200 businesses a year, to 11FTEs to support the huge demand among the business community. Six of those FTE roles are Growth Advisors on the ground in Queenstown Lakes, helping to distribute the Government’s Tourism Communities funding in a region that has been massively impacted by the loss of international travellers. Once the international borders reopen, Otago RBP will also help connect businesses to the $23 million Kickstart fund designed to assist them to rapidly scale up their operations.

“It has been an intense couple of years for business owners and managers,” says Tara Druce, Director Business Growth and Sustainability. “There is so much uncertainty which makes it very difficult to make solid business decisions, and the operation environment is continually changing requiring businesses to make frequent adjustments.”

She is full of praise for the businesses Otago RBP have been working with.

“They are tenacious, creative and innovative and it is incredibly rewarding to connect them to the funding and support that is out there,” she says.

There is plenty of praise the other way as well, such as this comment from luxury accommodation provider, Major Domo:

“I cannot stress how valuable this support is to smaller operators such as Major Domo. The fact the assistance is fully funded means a) we can commit to applying for this help [and] b) we can keep moving forward to ensure sustainability and structure to our business. If we had been required to 50% fund this assistance, then we would have not been able to pursue it at this stage. It is a very serious situation here in Queenstown and long-term business management assistance will continue to be of great value to business here. Our RBP Growth Advisor was very proactive in her approach to us and guided us through the support we could get.”