The Local Economic Stimulus
Part of a series on Place-Based Responses to COVID-19
As social containment policies are slowly removed, local governments are looking ahead to what they can do to stimulate a local economic recovery. More than ever, this involves close cooperation and engagement with the local business sector––building on the existing economic resource and deepening public-private collaboration.
A number of councils have identified the local arts sector as an important contributor to getting the local economy back on its feet.
- The City of Sydney (NSW) endorsed a $47.5 million package that included three new funding initiatives to support cultural and creative organisations: $3.5 million in specifically targeted relief:
- The Cultural Sector Resilience Grant Program ($2.25 million) will provide immediate financial support to not-for-profits and sole traders who are often reliant on individual grant rounds and project-based funds to maintain their minimal staff and to pay their artists. Institutions can apply for funds, including to curate creative development programs with groups of artists.
- The Sector-Led Crisis Support Fund ($250,000), will provide direct donations to existing, locally operated, online platforms Support Act NSW, the Artists Benevolent Fund and the Actors Benevolent Fund, who are raising funds to provide emergency relief and mental health support to local cultural workers in crisis.
- The Creative Fellowships Fund ($1 million) will support artists to engage in creative development of works and initiatives driven by the cultural sector, and to purchase materials and equipment. The works can be presented during or after the crisis has passed.
- The City of Melbourne (Vic) provides $2 million in financial assistance for artists or small organisations to develop new work, or for digital presentation of artistic works and performances.
- The City of Geelong (Vic) has established a COVID-19 Arts Recovery advisory panel. Calling for individual artists and arts sector representatives to register interest, the new arts advisory panel, seeks to understand how the pandemic is affecting professional practices. This will help council respond with new insights and programs designed to support the local creative communities.
A number of councils have brought forward their capital works and maintenance schedules to increase local spending and boost the local economy.
- The City of Sydney (NSW) is fast-tracking $23 million worth of capital works projects. This action will stimulate employment and improve local assets for the benefit of local communities.
- The City of Perth (WA) is working on accelerated capital works projects to help boost the economy and maintain jobs (e.g., redevelopment of Wellington Square, East End Revitalisation project, Roe Street Redevelopment, as well as lighting renewals and urban forest tree planting).
- The Baw Baw Shire Council (Vic) is fast-tracking Council infrastructure projects to award infrastructure projects sooner to invest funds and provide jobs in the local economy. Additionally, for the next 12 months, the weighting of local suppliers will be increased from 10 to 20 per cent.
- The City of Swan (WA) has approved a $8.85 million economic stimulus package to increase local investment, encourage job creation and inject money quickly into the local economy. This includes providing funds towards ‘shovel ready’ capital works and major maintenance programs that will be fast tracked to stimulate the local economy. more flexibility in tender processes. In addition, the City’s procurement policy has been amended for 12 months, including a higher tender threshold (increased from $150,000 to $250,000) and streamlined processes.
- The Western Downs Regional Council (Qld) Accelerated Infrastructure Program: $14.8m to accelerate a range of infrastructure projects to secure and create jobs. Projects include road and footpath upgrades and community building upgrades and activation projects. All works will be undertaken immediately by local contractors and suppliers wherever possible and will be completed within 12 months.
- The City of Darwin (NT) has begun a Green Army scheme and is offering casual employment opportunities for up to 100 individuals to support the community during the COVID-19 event. Individuals recruited to be part of the Green Army will be employed as general labourers to carry out a range of maintenance, greening and city beautification tasks across our parks and reserves, laneways, footpaths and other projects currently being undertaken by Council. An additional 3,500 trees have been purchased from local nurseries by City of Darwin for planting as part of the Green Army initiative. The Green Army will run until the 30 June 2020.
Supporting Local Industries and Clusters
Existing local businesses, industries and clusters are a major resource int the local economy. All businesses have been hit, some more than others. Some are more vulnerable and at risk. It is important to assess the industries and clusters that are most vulnerable in the short to medium run, evaluate the impacts this will have for their labour markets, and plan accordingly to make their economies more resilient and robust. Recommendations include the creation of a working group with economic development leaders, business representatives and academics to work with clusters to identify critical problems, supply chain needs, workforce issues and capital gaps, and connecting them with appropriate resources.
Other articles is this series on Place-Based Responses to COVID-19
For other articles is this series on Place-Based Responses to COVID-19 see:
- Issues that shape a local COVID-19 response
- Local COVID-19 Economic and Business Programs and Packages
- Engaging local business in COVID-19
- Support for Local Business Restructuring