Former ARC councillor Diane Gray takes on a role with Business Australia to support the local economy

SHE'S GOT YOUR BACK: Diane Gray is passionate about getting local business booming after a tough few years

SHE'S GOT YOUR BACK: Diane Gray is passionate about getting local business booming after a tough few years

Former Armidale Regional Council (ARC) councillor Diane Gray embarked on a new project last July, and she is loving it.

"Strengthening Business is a free service which provides access to experts who'll work with you to rebuild your business after the 2019-20 Black Summer bushfires," Ms Gray said.

"I'll work with you to strengthen the systems, operations and strategies of your business. Additionally, I will connect you to the services you need to recover."

When Ms Gray resigned from ARC earlier this year she said she would not be a candidate at the next council election, but had not given up on the region.

"I feel that I can give far better as a community member in the future, than I can being on council," she told The Armidale Express at the time.

This would appear to be one of those ways.

Businesses in one of 32 identified local government areas in NSW, South Australia and Victoria are eligible to access the free Strengthening Business program services.

"My role is a Strengthening Business facilitator and I work for Business Australia because they are the delivery partner for the program," Ms Gray said.

"The service can support business whether they have been affected directly or indirectly - so that means pretty much any business within the eligible local government areas can have support.

"I'm just one of 21 facilitators across the three states, but I am the only facilitator covering the four eligible local government areas ( Glen Innes, Tenterfield, Armidale and Walcha) in our region.

"All a business needs to do is have an active ABN that was operating before September 2019, and demonstrate they operate in an eligible local government area - it is so easy to get involved and get assistance."

Ms Gray has been a business consultant for more than 10 years working with small, medium and large size companies, and she says she is passionate about this new role.

"This is so much my soul at work - I just love it - it is a marriage made in heaven," she said.

"Because it is so bespoke I am already meeting with people outside of business hours, it is so flexible and the eligibility is so easy."

READ ALSO:

But the funding for the service is only for two years Ms Grays says.

"I just want to help as many people as I can -and there are so many ways we can support business and help and connect them with existing services," she said.

"Support can be given as individuals or to businesses in a group."

We've got to get businesses back thriving not just surviving.

Diane Gray

"I really feel it is an honour being able to work with extraordinary people who have been through a pretty tough ordeal - and that's a lot of businesses in our region."

Joe Townsend is the regional manager for Business NSW (formerly NSW Business Chamber) in the New England North West. He says his organisation identifies the key issues impacting business and finds practical policies to ensure businesses prosper and grow.

"This time last year, our local communities faced the triple-threat of bushfires, drought and weak household demand," Mr Townsend said.

"Through thick and thin we were with businesses every step of their journey during this difficult time, and as a result we recommended to the Government that business needed complimentary access to specialist advisors as they recover from the 2019-20 Black Summer Bushfires.

"Pleasingly the Federal Government launched Strengthening Business through the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources.

"This free bespoke service is delivered by Business Australia supporting local businesses rebuild, refresh, and renew their business."

"Our local businesses are true Australians, they have demonstrated their grit and resilience to continue their operations, paying their staff and supporting their communities," Mr Townsend said.

"The Strengthening Business program will support their in transitioning back and demonstrate that together we thrive"

For more information on the Strengthening Business service call Ms Gray on 0490 856 469.