Mid Coast businesses continue to be shrouded in uncertainty about the COVID-19 pandemic but that hasn't stopped them from opening their doors to welcome an influx of customers.
This is according to Business Taree (formerly Taree Business Chamber) president John Stevens, who said businesses across the region are gearing up for a prosperous end to the cooler months.
"The response we've received from hospitality and cafe type businesses has been since about the June long weekend the visitors are coming back and many cafes haven't seen it drop off since," Mr Stevens said.
"It's looking like it's going to be a better than usual winter, which is a welcome return of patronage to some of our local businesses compared to how we've had to cope with bushfires, floods and now the pandemic."
Mr Stevens hoped recent impacts of the virus on the NSW South Coast won't be replicated in the Mid Coast.
"I think it still remains a little bit uncertain given the recent upticking cases and if you look at what's starting to unfold at Batemans Bay, it gives us a little bit of concern of what it might look like in a place like ours," Mr Stevens said.
It's cheap to say shop local but you need to put your money where your mouth is and I know a lot of our local businesses and their families appreciate it when people do.John Stevens, Business Taree president
"Our populations are older than the national average by a good stretch, we're similarly affected by bushfires and the visiting economy is quite profound as well.
"I think there's still a bit of uncertainty but things still remain on the optimistic side for most businesses and plenty of businesses are able to make some plans going forward."
Recent announcements from the big banks about financial support and extended lending options is music to the ears of small business owners.
"We'll wait and see for feedback from businesses undertaking that process with their banks as to whether that's borne out in reality," Mr Stevens said.
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Reassurance about the extension of the JobKeeper and JobSeeker schemes is a relief for employers and their employees.
"It's a positive in the way it's been announced, I don't think many of us are too concerned about it being suddenly pulled out from the nose of businesses that have been receiving it and having some certainty about how it will look into the future," Mr Stevens said.
So what can the community do to help? It's simple - get behind your favourite local businesses and discover some new ones.
"The upcoming ShopMidCoast campaign that MidCoast Council is slowly unfolding has some exciting announcements to come and I'd love to see local businesses getting involved and local patrons back the campaign so businesses feel the love," Mr Stevens said.
In the case of supporting locals, actions speak louder than words.
"It's cheap to say shop local but you need to put your money where your mouth is and I know a lot of our local businesses and their families appreciate it when people do," Mr Stevens stressed.
He encouraged Taree residents to explore the region and support others through these harsh financial times.
"Don't forget we have a fabulous backyard. For Taree residents, Gloucester, Forster and Tea Gardens are in your backyard. I think it's important as a Mid Coast community to get behind one another and back each other in," Mr Stevens said.
There's lots of projects in the works that will boost the economy, tourism and local workforce.
"Both Figtrees on the Manning and the Northern Gateway Transport Hub project are in the work/plan/implementation phase and we can finally see the work undertaken to paint the Martin Bridge," Mr Stevens said.
Mr Stevens alluded to a 'burgeoning project' which is being funded by local businesses. It is designed to create enthusiasm for those who live and work in Taree.
"People should stay tuned," he said.
"Taree is a place that's got a rich cultural history, a history of community, innovation and getting things done. We should take the good things that have happened in the past and keep forging ahead for the future."
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