The Canberra Business Chamber has seen its membership grow by about 20% since January, in a year that has proved tough for many local businesses.
After numerous industries were affected with the bushfires and smoke pollution, the hailstorm and then COVID-19, Chamber CEO Graham Catt said many businesses were turning to the organisation.
“In March and April our focus was providing information about government assistance that was available and health information,” he said.
“That information was coming out daily and sometimes more regularly. It was important for businesses to receive that information quickly, and simple and easy so they could understand and implement it.”
The Chamber had to quickly offer online opportunities for its services during that period and were able to return to holding COVID-safe networking events in July.
With over 30,000 businesses in the ACT at the end of 2019, the Territory was the fastest growing business community across Australia.
While 97% of those businesses are classified as small and micro businesses, Mr Catt said they would be vital in the ACT’s economic recovery from COVID-19.
“When it comes to our recovery, we have been very clear that business provides about two-thirds of Canberra’s jobs so when we think about the plan to create more jobs, it’s going to be those private sectors that are going to be the peak providers,” he said.
Mr Catt said the ACT was showing strong signs of growing its business confidence, however it was important to note some businesses were still struggling.
“Generally, there is a sense of confidence. In the ACT we are fortunate to have minimal COVID-19 cases and we are seeing good signs in retail and people shopping for Christmas,” he said.
“The government does have an economic recovery plan, so the sentiment out there is pretty positive but it’s important we don’t lose sight that some small businesses really need our support.
“For some of those businesses, we are coming up to another Christmas and they have been doing it tough since last December.”