$800,000 available to support innovative local business projects in City CBD

13 Jul 2021

Projects designed to draw people into the City Centre and Darby Street will share in around $800,000 as part of a funding program driving visitation and vibrancy across Newcastle.

City of Newcastle’s Special Business Rate (SBR) program uses levies paid by business owners for the promotion, beautification and development of precincts in the City Centre/Darby Street, Hamilton, Mayfield, New Lambton and Wallsend.

More than $1.6 million was distributed through the SBR program in 2020/21 to 19 projects successful under the contestable funding rounds, as well as funding and support services for Business Improvements Associations in the five precincts.

Modelling by REMPLAN shows last year's SBR funding generated a total economic impact of $5,821,261 for the city with a return on investment of 349%.

Applications are now open for the new City Centre and Darby Street funding round, with around $800,000 available for projects that deliver the most effective, creative and innovative ideas to boost local businesses.

City of Newcastle’s SBR selection panel also recently assessed 10 suburban project applications for the Hamilton, New Lambton and Wallsend precincts. The panel approved four project proposals in Hamilton to share in the funding pool of $50,000.

Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said the SBR program provided invaluable support for the business precincts, with outcomes that flowed through to the wider Newcastle area.

“City of Newcastle recognises the integral role and contribution of local businesses to the city’s economic development,” Cr Nelmes said.

“The Special Business Rate program is an important way to involve local businesses and the community in the development and promotion of their local business precincts.

“The creative and innovation projects delivered with SBR funding add to the vibrancy and activation of Newcastle, while also driving increased visitation and expenditure."

Categories of focus include industry and business development; place activation and events; beautification and infrastructure development; and promotion.

Online public information sessions will be held on 20 and 21 July.

Angela Hailey from the Makers and Traders Newcastle said the SBR funding program had made a tangible impact on customer numbers as well as collaboration between independent businesses in the City Centre and Darby Street.

The group received City Centre funding in a previous round for their beautifully illustrated Makers and Traders "Treasure Map", which provides visitors and residents with a navigational guide to local businesses and experiences. An updated version of the map featuring significantly more businesses is expected to be released later this month.

"The SBR funding enabled us to create this map, which promotes our group of independent traders to tourists while also encouraging lapsed locals to come back into town, and it's been really well supported," Ms Hailey said.

"The SBR funding also encouraged us to formalise our casual connections into this group, which enables us to do things on a collective level that we wouldn't have been able to achieve on an individual level."

More information about the Special Business Rate program and funding opportunities can be found at newcastle.nsw.gov.au/special-business-rates. Applications for the City Centre / Darby Street funding close on 31 July 2021.

Successful Hamilton SBR projects include:

Curious Creatures (Curious Legends)

A mini festival of afternoon and evening cultural activations in Hamilton's Gregson Park, tentatively planned for November 2021. Local artists, musicians, light installations and puppeteers will activate the park, while the community are also invited to participate in free workshops at Hudson Street Hum prior to the event and get involved with performance opportunities.

Hamilton Hive Interactive Mural (UP&UP inspirations)

This project will design and paint an interactive mural on the exterior wall of the Community Hive building on Beaumont Street, Hamilton. The mural will make the space more vibrant and welcoming, encouraging people to visit the Hamilton precinct, and increasing foot traffic for businesses.

Walk With Us (Paul Maher)

This project will replace a number of existing mosaics with safe, level, slip resistant installations suitable for high foot traffic areas. The mosaics will beautify the Beaumont Street footpath, honour the suburb’s social and entrepreneurial history, encourage engagement with local businesses and celebrate our shared cultural heritage and history.