Regional resilience shines as COVID-19 restrictions ease

Opportunities exist for Murraylands businesses as the new normal emerges, says Regional Development Australia's Ben Fee.

This post is brought to you by Regional Development Australia Murraylands and Riverland.

As pubs and cafes begin to fill more seats, retail workers return to their stores, gyms and beauty salons begin to rebook clients, and we can once again welcome tourists with open arms, there is one cohort that epitomises resilience across our region: our health workers.

The exemplary work of our health sector is at the core of our economic recovery from COVID-19.

Health is one of only two sectors where we have seen an increase in employment during the pandemic, information media and telecommunications being the other.

This can be attributed to new testing facilities such as the new respiratory clinic that opened in Murray Bridge and a drive-through collection centre established in Berri, one of the first for regional South Australia.

Doctors and nurses, aged-care and home-care workers, and the many support staff who make up 12.1 per cent of our region’s employment have not only been working overtime, but have also had to set up new systems, adapt existing facilities and, in some cases, even isolate away from their families to keep our community safe.

Regional Development Australia chief executive officer Ben Fee says the selflessness of those on the frontline during this pandemic has been beyond incredible.

“To all of our frontline health workers: thank you!” he says.

“Together with the World Health Organisation, we ask that our community joins us at every opportunity to thank our regional health heroes.

“One way this can be done is by posting your message of thanks using the hashtag #ThanksHealthHero.

“The brave and expert work of our health sector has us better-placed than much of the rest of the world and Australia.

“Our world-leading health response is the foundation for a strong economic recovery.”

RDAMR will continue to support regional businesses

As our much-loved Murray River lifestyle begins to return to something resembling normality, Regional Development Australia Murraylands and Riverland continues to modify and adapt its programs to ensure support measures are available as the region continues through recovery.

According to the RDAMR We Are Here survey, many businesses will take months, and in some cases years, to recover from the impacts and losses of COVID-19.

Mr Fee says that although life appears to be returning to normal for some, it’s a long road ahead for others.

“We know that uncertainty remains for many in the events, food and hospitality industries,” he says.

“However, support from regional communities and our urban neighbours for these businesses has been exceptional.

“Our local businesses and residents have shown fierce resilience and support for one-another as we all continue to navigate the full effects of the coronavirus.

“One of the greatest attributes I have seen across both the Riverland and Murraylands, has been business owners’ willingness to innovate and shift their thinking in the face of the pandemic.

“From changing the way food is delivered, to how workouts are provided and factory floors are managed, everyone has had to make dramatic changes, and quicker than ever thought possible.

“For all of the stress that this has caused, there are silver linings in the way that we have innovated and our tolerance for new work practices.

“RDAMR staff have ridden the wave of change with our region, and we are available to offer tailored businesses support through the next stages of recovery and beyond.”

Tap into an expert’s knowledge or take up online study

RDAMR’s Business to Business program is available for all business owners and managers across the region and provides heavily subsidised mentoring support across targeted areas in cash flow, human resources, digital technologies and accessing government support.

The Experts in Residence program will begin rolling out a series of webinars in the coming weeks.

This three-year program provides access to industry experts to assist businesses with one-on-one and workshop-style development programs in the fields of agtech, food and agritourism, brand and marketing, supply-chain management, market access and development and business growth and performance.

The Murray River Study Hub has maintained its services throughout the pandemic.

Its focus on growing online university enrolments for the region through a range of support mechanisms, including local student advisers, has allowed those who wish to take part in tertiary study get started, even in the midst of a pandemic.

Opportunities lie ahead, regional development manager says

RDAMR regional development manager Jarrod Bielby says a key positive for our region as it comes out of the pandemic will be the opportunities which lie ahead in terms of local development and investment.

“When you look at the number of construction and development projects already underway and proposed for our region, the future looks strong,” he says.

“In the Murraylands, Thomas Foods International has just been given the green light to start construction in the next six months, while the Bridgeport Hotel’s major redevelopment is coming along nicely.

“The Riverland Food and Wine Centre business case has gained traction, and smaller operators like Arrosto Coffee and Ryde Clothing are in growth phases with new facilities and shop fronts opening.

“There’s a lot to be excited about in our region’s future, and I would encourage all business owners across our region to reach out to our team at RDAMR to see how we can support you with your growth plans, or in recovery, over the coming months.”