Small businesses in drought-affected regions are benefitting from a new $1 million financial counselling program to help them through current economic challenges.
The new program is part of the $21 million Marshall Liberal Government Drought Support Package and will be delivered by Rural Business Support which has expanded its existing rural financial counselling service.
Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Tim Whetstone said the Marshall Liberal Government recognised the importance of supporting small businesses in rural communities survive the drought, bushfires and coronavirus and come out the other side stronger than before.
"It's an extremely challenging time for all businesses with coronavirus restrictions in place off the back of drought and bushfires but it is critical we keep our small businesses in regional communities as strong as possible," said Minister Whetstone.
"Small businesses are the backbone of regional communities and we need them to survive the current economic downturn and remain an important part of rural South Australia.
"The new free Small Business Financial Counselling program, modelled on the hugely successful Rural Financial Counselling Service, will see dedicated small business financial counsellors based on the Eyre Peninsula, Mid North/Upper North, Murraylands/Mallee and the Riverland.
"As well as supporting drought-impacted small businesses, this program will also assist those impacted by the restrictions on snapper fishing.
"Providing these financial counselling services to small rural and regional businesses addresses a recognised gap in current service support, particularly in drought-affected communities."
Rural Business Support Chief Executive Brett Smith said the demand for rural financial counselling services from primary producers had risen more than 120 per cent in the past 18 months.
"The expanded services and small business financial counselling program will be much welcomed and it will be great to see experienced counsellors now working with eligible businesses to understand their financial position, identify options and implement plans to improve their viability," said Mr Smith.
"This is a flexible program, clients will be able to arrange a meeting with a counsellor, which will be online given current circumstances, but when we return to normal they will also be able to meet at their business, at a mutually convenient location or at one of our regional offices."
To be eligible to access the service regional and rural small businesses must employ 19 or fewer people, be experiencing financial hardship or be at imminent risk of financial hardship and be located in a drought-affected area (unless a small business impacted by the snapper moratorium).
For more information on the Small Business Financial Counselling Program visit www.ruralbusinesssupport.org.au or call 1800 836 211.