By Cam Lucadou-Wells
Greater Dandenong Council has re-opened and nearly doubled funding for its ‘overwhelmed’ Covid business grants program.
A further $150,000 has been allocated for Round 2 – on top of about $207,000 spent on the first round which closed early due to “overwhelming” demand.
The extra round will open on Monday 19 October and close on Friday 30 October “unless funds are exhausted prior to this date”, Greater Dandenong business director Paul Kearsley said.
Grants of up to $2500 are available – revised down from Round 1’s maximum of $5000.
“Eligible applicants across both rounds will receive grants of up to $2,500 to ensure a consistent level of funding and provide support to more businesses,” Mr Kearsley said.
“Any business who we know was part way through an application when Round 1 closed will be contacted directly ahead of the opening date.”
City of Greater Dandenong had recently told Star Journal that the next round’s funding was on hold due to the council being in caretaker mode.
Caretaker mode ceases after council election voting closes on 23 October and new councillors are announced early November.
However, council chief executive John Bennie has used delegated authority to redirect funding to the program “as a further sign of support for local businesses who we know are doing it tough”, Mr Kearsley said.
The first version of the program shut on 29 September – after receiving 103 submissions in its first 11 days.
The Star Journal believes that up to 83 Round 1 applicants were set to receive $2500 – putting the first round about $57,000 over the $150,000 budget.
The extra money would be covered by an unused business development grant program and the council’s Economic Development Unit budget.
Mr Kearsley said unsuccessful Round 1 applicants can reapply “but will need to clearly address their eligibility in the application to be considered”.
“Unsuccessful applicants will receive a voucher for three free 45-minute mentoring sessions to provide business support.”
The grants complement considerable state and federal grants for businesses, Mr Kearsley said.