Flood-hit northern NSW homeowners receive $30m in government funding to reopen

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“This support will cover repair costs for landlords to ensure retail businesses can reopen,” Watt said. “This could include cleaning services, equipment rental or covering building repair costs.”

New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet – who visited the area mid last month and announced a major land buy-back and swap scheme to steer residents away from flood-prone areas – said that it was obvious that many small businesses could not reopen because their premises were still in a mess. .

“Many owners may have multiple businesses and locations dependent on them,” Perrottet said. “Combined with the impacted small businesses receiving grants through the Small Business Grants, this will help many stores reopen. This is the type of end-to-end thinking we need to recover from a natural disaster.

The “forgotten piece” of reconstruction

The announcement comes just weeks after a major inquiry recommended sweeping changes to the planning and management of the area in a bid to avert the next disaster. The inquiry led by Professor Mary O’Kane and former police commissioner Mick Fuller also recommended a major overhaul of the state’s emergency planning and response functions.

But locals have called business owners a “forgotten piece” in the rebuilding effort, given that they have been left out of some grant programs designed to get small businesses back on their feet. Grant schemes were also prohibited for landlords who held property in their super funds.

Residents noted that landlords unable to pay for repairs or readmit tenants had a disproportionate ripple effect that slowed the return of commerce to the area.

“There are so many empty storefronts,” said local store owner Ellen Kronen, who also runs the Lismore Chamber of Commerce. The Australian Financial Review. “The average owner here doesn’t have a lazy $50,000 to dip into for repairs, but there are business owners out there waiting to come back.”

Ms Kronen has not been able to reopen her ‘Made in Lismore’ gift shop since March because its owner needed more help with repairs. Since then, she has been running her business online and from a corner of nearby Daley’s Homewares.

She said the new package was overdue but would revive the city center where many traders had been unable to reopen since March. The aid would also help homeowners pay for higher quality renovations that could withstand flooding.

“It’s simple changes like stainless steel shelves instead of wood, and this money will help homeowners pay for those changes,” she said.

Deputy Prime Minister Paul Toole and NSW Emergency Services Minister Steph Cooke both pointed out that it is local shops – hairdressers, butchers, cafes and the like – that form the backbone of a regional centre, but many have not been able to reopen because the owners have not had the money to repair their premises.

Mr Toole said owners could apply for the scheme at the end of September.

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