Business areas to get events funding boost

17 Jul 2019

Businesses, not-for-profit organisations and community groups are invited to apply for around $900,000 in funding as part of a program designed to attract more people into the City’s business areas.

Funding will be provided through an Expression of Interest process for projects or events in or surrounding the City Centre, Hamilton, Wallsend and New Lambton.

Funding of up to $500,000 for a single project or event in the Newcastle CBD is possible under the new program, with smaller grants of up to $15,000 available for events that are staged in Hamilton, Wallsend and New Lambton.

“It’s going to be very exciting to see what the new funding program generates in terms of ideas for new projects and events in the City CBD and some of our smaller commercial areas,” City of Newcastle CEO Jeremy Bath said.

“Newcastle has long been considered the creative capital of Australia, and now we are putting money on the table to turn these ideas into events that activate local business areas.

“The funding is drawn from a special levy that commercial ratepayers in the city and parts of Hamilton, Wallsend and New Lambton pay. For the past decade the community had limited visibility of how the money was being spent.

“Now, instead of money being frittered away on administration and employee costs, it will be invested directly into events and projects that will attract people to local business districts.”

From 2011 to last month, the City provided more than $8 million funded via the special levy to three Business Improvement Associations (BIAs) and two local chambers of commerce.

A review last year revealed major problems with the model, resulting in one BIA voluntarily suspending itself and City of Newcastle terminating the funding agreements of Newcastle Now and Hamilton Chamber of Commerce due to significant governance breaches.

A new model was adopted by Council in May after it decided that BIAs in Newcastle, Mayfield, Hamilton and Wallsend should receive no more than $100,000 annually.

The City is now working with local businesses in Mayfield, Hamilton and the City Centre to form new BIAs, with the aim of entering into 12-month service agreements.

The Wallsend BIA will continue to operate without change.

Council also voted in May to ban special rates from being used by BIAs on employee and administration costs, stipulating that funds should go towards events and projects that activate and promote the business areas.

A new shared resource to manage the administration responsibilities will be appointed in July to ensure previous governance issues within BIAs won’t re-occur.

Expressions of Interest applications for the new funding are open now and close on Friday 9 August 2019.