Despite the share of voice enjoyed by large organisations in Australia, it is small businesses that account for the vast majority of Australian enterprises. Small and medium-sized businesses employ 4.8 million Australians and are a major GDP contributor. Employment growth in small businesses accounted for approximately 60 per cent of total employment growth in the private sector between 2013-2018.
Parramatta’s retail and food and beverage businesses alone employed over 17,000 workers in 2018/2019. But during this extremely challenging year, small and medium-sized businesses have been put under enormous pressure with the ensuing economic crisis hitting businesses hard. Many have seen the situation as an opportunity rather than a challenge and taken advantage of economic stimulus measures. This includes a number of grants that were created in recognition of the tough economic climate.
Earlier this year, City of Parramatta offered grants of up to $2,000 to businesses that needed to modify their operating model to continue to generate revenue. A funding pool of $150,000 was created to help businesses adapt and diversify, and to continue trading during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Local grants put to good use
Reflecting the need for this type of funding, City of Parramatta received a total of 185 applications and awarded 85 applications either full or partial funding for their projects.
Parramatta Espresso Bar White Henry used their funding to produce a smart phone app for customer orders.
Andy Canestrari-Soh said the project is almost complete. “The back-end and the graphic design components have been completed, the structure is in place for publishing the app and we are currently working on bugs that need to be resolved in the app code itself.
“As we’re working with a low budget for what we are trying to accomplish we are doing some things the hard way, so this phase is taking quite a while, but I am confident the end result will be well worth the effort and will help the business immensely,” said Canestrari-Soh.
Popular ice cream bar Gelato Messina put its funds towards targeted social media ads and new store signage. Brand and Marketing Manager Siân Bishop said “the extra funding allowed us to let people in the local area know we’re still open and trading.
“We’ve also developed some new take-home dinner kits which will go on sale next week, and will be available from the Parramatta store for local residents to order and collect in store,” Bishop said.
Rydalmere-based Oldtimer Centre put its COVID grant to good use. Oldtimer Centre sells classic and contemporary cars including European brands Mercedes, BMW, Porsche, Audi, Saab, Volvo and many other marques.
Managing Director Richard Simons said “we have already been working on our new website which is allowing people to not have to come into the dealership as much and buy cars remotely.
“We also spent money on masks, gloves and extra disinfectants for wiping down our cars. Plus, a weekly cleaning service to come in and make sure our dealership and office space gets wiped down professionally,” he added.
Future growth for small business
Parramatta is set to continue to be a great place for small businesses to locate. In March this year, the NSW Government’s Small Business Commission relocated to Parramatta. The Small Business Commission’s move is part of the NSW Government’s Decade of Decentralisation policy, which includes a focus on Greater Sydney. When the move was announced Minister for Small Business Damien Tudehope said the NSW Government wanted to support the growth of thousands of additional jobs in Parramatta.
In the 12 months to March 2020, 2,500 new businesses established in Parramatta, signifying business confidence in the City prior to the pandemic. Confidence which, with the measures put in place to support businesses, and unprecedented investment in Parramatta continuing, is likely to return.