Support on business law matters

Tara Druce
Tara Druce
A business support programme in Otago is offering to help companies pay for advice around matters such as employment or contract law.

Most businesses have had to completely stop or carry out work they can from home, in light of the Covid-19 lockdown around the country.

The Regional Business Partners [RBP] Programme has been given extra funding to give to businesses in need of advice around what to do now.

The programme’s business growth manager Tara Druce said businesses just had to register online at www.regionalbusinesspartners.co.nz and a staff member would get in touch with them.

"Then what we do is have a conversation ... via Zoom or phone and explore where the business is at and what support is there to help them.

"We’ve got various tools in the toolbox."

The money was in demand from businesses and most could expect about $2000 to go towards professional advice.

That advice would be in four areas: human resources, business continuity, finance and cashflow and health and wellness.

Ms Druce said businesses would have to be patient because of the high demand at the moment.

"We’re under huge pressure.

"We just want to get the support out to businesses but we’re a small team.

"Get registered and we’ll be working through businesses in the order that they’re coming in. Demand is huge ... there may be a little bit of a wait."

To qualify, businesses had to have fewer than 50 fulltime equivalent workers, operate in a commercial environment and the decision was at the discretion of the RBP.

"We need to know it’s going to benefit the business in response to Covid-19," Ms Druce said.

The RBP business support scheme has been going for about nine years and is delivered by the Otago Chamber of Commerce.

The programme is funded half by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and half by Callaghan Innovation.

"We can work with any business," Ms Druce said.

"Our job is to work with businesses to identify their key challenges and then connect them with the right support to help them."

The Otago RBP is also running webinars on aspects such as employment and contract law, cashflow planning, mental health and wellbeing. They have been running over the last week and will continue.

Ms Druce was grateful for the extra Government funding aimed at helping businesses pay for crucial advice at this time.

"This is a really well targeted intervention by Government. It’s exactly what businesses need right now."

At first, tourism businesses were hit by the effects of Covid-19 but now that pain was being felt by all.

"I guess, when the border was closed to visitors, that impact was felt immediately in businesses that rely 90-100% on international visitors ...

"Now the lockdown is in place, the impacts are being felt right across the region. There’s no particular sector or area I would highlight as being more obviously affected as a result of this."

jacob.mcsweeny@odt.co.nz

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