By Laura Michell
More than 130 businesses have received financial help from Hume council to help them stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The council recently distributed $980,741 to 134 businesses as part of its Small and Medium Business Quick Support Grants.
The grants were aimed at supporting business growth and creating local jobs.
Businesses with up to five employees were eligible for grants of up to $5000, while businesses with six to 10 employees could apply for up to $10,000. Businesses with between 11 and 20 employees could access grants of up to $20,000.
Hume Cr Joseph Haweil said the council received more than 350 applications with 134 businesses meeting the grant criteria.
He said distributing the grants was “bittersweet”.
“These businesses who council have just been able to extend a helping hand are now facing the same challenges due to the reintroduction of stage three restrictions due to COVID-19 until mid-August,” he said.
“At Hume, we want to see businesses succeed and we want to see local people employed in these businesses.”
Among the grant recipients was Craigieburn’s Second Chance Animal Rescue (SCAR), which received $20,000.
Founder Marisa Debattista said the grant had helped pay the bills while the organisation worked out how to operate within the confines of state government restrictions.
She said SCAR had been forced to close its shelter to the public, with adoption now by appointment only. It has also switched its community vet clinic to a kerbside service to reduce the number of people in the clinic.
Ms Debattista said the grant had also helped SCAR start up a drive-through pet food bank, providing free pet food to people in need.
“The grant gave us some breathing space while we worked out what to do next,” she said.
“We are trying to work around what we need to be doing to make sure our charity survives and people get the help they need.
“Without the extra funding… we were thinking it would be the end of our organisation.”