Chamber discusses help

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SMOKY: Sunset in Porepunkah on the weekend. Smoke is predicted to stay in the region over the coming days. PHOTO: Jean-Pierre Ronco

A REPRESENTATIVE from Myrtleford Chamber of Commerce last Wednesday attended the Business Council roundtable in Canberra to discuss the task of rebuilding bushfire-affected communities.

The BizRebuild initiative has been specifically designed to focus on rebuilding bushfire-affected communities to be stronger than before.

The five-year recovery and rebuilding fund involves ensuring locals have jobs, can return to work, businesses and industries can reopen and community facilities can be rebuilt.

Chamber of Commerce president Jim Van Geet said though the meeting was positive there is not yet a clear outcome for business help in Myrtleford.

“We are in a very different situation to those on Kangaroo Island and Mallacoota, those who need the immediate help and are very, very burnt,” he said.

“The aim is to provide immediate works in communities that need it and fortunately we don’t need to rebuild our town – our needs are very different.

“It was a great initiative to be a part of but we are not sure how much impact it will have on Myrtleford directly.”BizRebuild will also aim to reestablish vital job creating industries that are the lifeblood of many bushfire affected communities, particularly tourism and agriculture.

Mr Van Geet said the biggest problem Myrtleford faces is cash flow and providing help for grape growers experiencing the effects of severe smoke taint.

“We don’t know what that help looks like and at the moment we don’t have many details,” he said.

“We are going to our local members and getting them to get us details because there is so much out there in terms on grants and funding.

“I do know that at that meeting if we felt there was something we needed to help the business community in Myrtleford, they would certainly listen to us.”

The initiative complements the efforts of the governments National Bushfire Recovery Agency and charities.