The Brunswick Heads Visitor Centre and the chamber say they have pooled their resources to help the town’s businesses survive the COVID-19 crisis wave and prepare for the comeback.
Small retail business and Chamber President, Juliana Harmsen says while the Visitor Centre is closed to customers, an ‘engine room’ has been established for the Chamber’s COVID-19 response.
‘The Visitor Centre and Chamber have retained their four part-time staff members to help the executive committee implement a range of strategies,’ she says.
‘Top of the list is a practical initiative. Bruns is still doing business… but differently. Almost two weeks ago, the Bruns doing business list was created, and is being updated every day by the team. It’s posted on the Chamber and Brunswick Heads community Facebook pages and Instagram by noon, and is also on the Chamber’s website.
‘Our small businesses have adapted quickly and creatively to the ever-changing rules designed to protect our community. On Monday, 66 businesses, including 14 essential businesses were operating in some way.’
Harmsen says a few businesses are offering takeaway, with strict one-at-a-time service and social distancing rules in place, several are offering home deliveries, or are operating by appointment only and most retailers have transferred their business across to online trading.
‘Rick Newman had a creative idea for his Gym on the Run Bootcamp. He has put together fitness packs for each of his clients and hand delivered them to their homes. These contain instructions and all the equipment they need to complete the bootcamp program for the week.
‘Bruns businesses are being kept informed of all the government assistance programs as they are announced, via the Chamber’s communication platforms. The biggest issue for most businesses is rent.
Speaking with landlords
Realtor Russell Siwicki, who is also a executive committee member, said, ‘Our team is speaking to every business to see if they need our help. We have already had conversations with several landlords, with some excellent outcomes.’
Visitor Centre co-ordinator Kim Rosen says that her team is ready to help implement any projects that are rolled out.
‘The Chamber is looking at several other initiatives, including one to help businesses start up or enhance online trading on their social media platforms. Another will provide free one-on-one consultations with an expert to help businesses start an online store, if that’s what they need,’ she said.
The Chamber say they will continue to liaise with Council, state and federal bodies to waive various business fees and charges to help Brunswick Heads businesses survive the crisis. The Chamber has met with Council’s general manager to advise on the impact of COVID-19 on Bruns businesses, and to outline what the Chamber was doing and request fee relief.
‘We were pleased that outdoor dining fees were waived. But we are also requesting that Council waive other fees as well,’ Ms Harmsen added. ‘Support for businesses is only a message away’, she said.