The bushfires across Australia are adding economic challenges to small rural and regional towns that were already challenged economically thanks to a soft economy and, in our view, poor leadership on the practical economics front.
We think it is essential for the federal government to engage urgently, practically and authentically to stimulate local economies and to do so blind to politics. Too often we see politicians endorse handouts to mates or based on the possible ballot box impact. Pork barrelling it is called. Right now, at this moment in time, we need no pork barrelling. What we need is stimulation where it is needed and the politicians should play no role in determining where it is needed.
In this post, as we did in November 2019, we call on federal politicians to engage in practical stimulation of small business retail as this will have an urgent, swift, knock-on benefit for local economies.
Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy, small business retail especially.
Small business retailers are nimble and able to lift local economies faster than big businesses and certainly better than online businesses.
Here are six tips for politicians on steps they can take, decisions they can make to help lift retail, especially small business retail.
- Direct all politician electorate Christmas spending to be with local small businesses. For gifts, parties, cards, everything for a year. Have the results assessed independently. Ensure that spending is fair, too, to benefit a variety of local businesses, and not dolled out as political favours. Shop local, shop small.
- Run a national shop small shop local ad campaign. Make it educational, smart, encouraging …, guiding Aussies on the value to them from shopping local, shopping small. Help to understand the true value of shopping local, shopping small compared to the alternatives. The ad campaign should run regionally across multiple media platforms, giving preference to locally owned platforms with a track record for not managing their business to minimise tax.
- Local shops refresh grant. Give every local retail business a grant of at least $10,000 with the stipulation that it is spent locally tin capital works for the shop, to improve the shop. Proof of local spending is to be in the form of an invoice from a local tradesperson or company with and ABN and more than a year of trading as recognised by the ATO – to avoid fraud. Spending could be focussed: painting, electrical, carpentry, flooring, repairs. The management of this should be online with quick approval and payment. Note: the $10,000 is suggested as anything less could be cosmetic. The reality is, we’d suggest $15,000 for $20,000. In a small town with ten shops, that would be $200,000 being spent with local contractors and businesses, flowing quickly through the economy.
- Local artists grants. Offer cash grants to fund buskers for local high streets, to make shopping locally more entertaining. Make the application easy. Focus on local artists entertaining in their local community. This serves the dual purpose of injecting cash locally as well as fostering the local arts. The application process should be online, approval fast and payment immediate.
- Local visual merchandising supports. Keeping in-store displays can be a challenge for small business retailers. Fund a network of merchandisers to make a 2 hour call weekly on qualified independent small retail businesses, sub $1M turnover, ABN registered, trading for six months or more. With each visit to be about visual refresh of the shop. Cap the cam pain at three months assess the economic value. Only local merchandisers to be used – i.e. to an overseas agency who hires local contractors.
- Establish local currency systems. These work overseas on regional towns where local currency has more value than the national currency. It supports shopping local through a smart value structure. the government role could be on the tech back end to manage the currency – taking away capital cost from local councils. To find out more ab9out this, read up on the Bristol Pound.
This list could be longer. It is offered here as a start, to gets people thinking of practical ways to support shopping small, shopping local.
The current disinterest by politicians in practical support for local small businesses has us on a path of business closures. Urgent action is needed to engage locals in supporting local businesses.