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North Otago businesses are invited to a gathering where they can find out how to access free help.

The Otago Chamber of Commerce is hosting a “meet and greet” at the Brydone Hotel on Tuesday from 5.15pm to 7pm. Its newly appointed business growth adviser Grant Harrex will be there to discuss how the district’s businesses can tap into Covid-19 Business Advisory Funding.

Mr Harrex said it was an opportunity to engage with the Regional Business Partners network, a government-funded initiative to connect the business community with support and funding.

It was now administering the new Covid-19 resource. Access to it was free and required no financial input from the business owner.

Mr Harrex has been visiting Oamaru weekly to familiarise himself with the district’s business sector. He was keen to steer people in the right direction to receive support for which they were eligible.

It would likely take the form of vouchers worth a certain dollar amount of an adviser’s time.

There were hundreds of advisers registered with the programme. They would provide “quality time”, using their experience to guide the business into a better situation and to be better prepared for its future, he said.

“The nature of the supports depends on the needs of the business we are talking to.

“For some, they might be exploring exporting for the first time and we would connect them to NZTE [New Zealand Trade and Enterprise].

“Senior management/owners of businesses may wish to enhance their capability and we can discuss options and funding.

“Sometimes a mentor can provide the that’ perspective that makes a difference,” he said.

“Or a business may be facing significant trading pressure as a consequence of Covid-19 and we can discuss support options.

“A chat with a RBP growth adviser can help businesses navigate the landscape.”

Tuesday’s function would be “fairly casual” so people could chat to each other and gain awareness of what was happening regionally and nationally, he said.

“It’s a very fast-moving landscape.”

The Chamber of Commerce could serve as “a central pivot-point”.

To be eligible for Covid-19 Business Advisory Funding, a business needed to have:

  • fewer than 100 full-time equivalent employees; and
  • GST registration in New Zealand; and
  • a New Zealand Business Number; and
  • a commercial environment in which it operated; and
  • private ownership or be a Maori Trust or incorporation under the Te Ture Whenua Maori Act 1993 or similar organisation managing Maori assets under multiple ownership.