Rural government assistance for SMEs

Small businesses operating in remote locations around the country are often faced with a unique set of challenges, compared with counterparts operating in more developed areas. This can include a shortage of skilled labour, lower demand and a greater likelihood of extreme weather conditions affecting operations. However businesses in rural areas are often a critical part of the local economy, providing much of the employment and growth in a particular region.

This year's federal budget outlined a number of key measures aimed at stimulating growth in rural areas, specifically via the Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry portfolio. In particular, the government is directing funds towards improving infrastructure and services to remote communities.

At a state government level, there are also a number of government assistance packages and grants tailored specifically to the unique requirements of rural business.

The Queensland government provides primary producers looking to enter the market with First Start Loans  that enable new farming and fishing operations to establish themselves as viable enterprises. Similarly, Sustainability Loans  are provided with the aim of ensuring viability and productivity in the long-term.
The state also offers assistance  to businesses affected by natural disasters, including flooding, cyclones, storms and bushfires via a low interest loan of up to $250,000 to help rebuild the business. This can assist SMEs in covering basic costs such as rent and other overhead during the restoration period.

For businesses operating in rural parts of Victoria, assistance for research and development  purposes is provided to agricultural businesses, specifically within smaller, emerging industries. The grant covers all aspects of agricultural development, including production, processing, long-term strategy and marketing of the sector's products.

The Victorian Government also offers businesses in rural areas with high growth potential support  to ensure continued growth, particularly within business and industries of increasing importance to rural areas at a town or state level. This includes projects that will result in job creation and wider investment in rural communities and support ranges from finance, strategic advice and facilitation services.


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