Central Highlands Development Corporation CEO Arjan Bloemer.
Central Highlands Development Corporation CEO Arjan Bloemer.

CQ to face economic impact of COVID-19 for ‘quite some time’

RESEARCH has found business revenue falls in the Central Highlands were significantly lower than average for Queensland in the wake of the global pandemic.

However, the early months of the COVID-19 crisis still led to a considerable reduction in jobs in the region and its economy is not expected to completely recover for at least 12 months.

They are some of the key findings of economic and demographic specialist REMPLAN, which the Central Highlands Development Corporation (CHDC) commissioned to undertake an economic impact analysis and business activity survey on the pandemic.

“Anecdotally, we know that local businesses experienced a wide range of effects to varying degrees, but it was important to also take a more precise approach to measuring those impacts,” CHDC Chief Executive Officer Arjan Bloemer says.

“We also wanted to get a clear picture of what to prepare for in the coming months as part of a collaborative approach to managing the impacts of the pandemic.”

In response to the need to co-ordinate economic recovery and transition initiatives CHDC, in partnership with Central Highlands Regional Council, has supported a role for the next 18 months.

“This role supports the Local Disaster Management Group and aligns with the State Government’s Economic Recovery Plan for QLD,” Mr Bloemer says.

“To date we’ve been relatively fortunate with the impacts of the restrictions and are working with the (new) normal for businesses.

“However, the global pandemic is still in full swing and we need to accept the economic impacts may still flow to the Central Highlands for quite some time.

“As a whole, our region’s businesses have already learnt lessons in resilience – with mining downturns, flooding, and the like – and I’m confident we have the skills and the determination get through this too.”

Full findings of the research can be found at chdc.com.au.

“Since restrictions in Queensland were relaxed in late June and early July, many of the challenges for businesses, particularly in the food and hospitality sector, have eased significantly,” Mr Bloemer says.

“We’re hopeful these promising developments will be reflected in our next business survey early next year.”

Local businesses are encouraged to contact CHDC for support and resources.

“We’re especially keen to help local operators access the State Government’s Small Business COVID-19 Adaption Grants of up to $10,000 and have already successfully assisted a number of local businesses to obtain this funding,” Mr Bloemer says.