When it comes to the economic and employment challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, Northern Tasmania faces a challenging road ahead - but we also have reasons to be optimistic.
Over recent months international and interstate travel has crawled to a stop, many of our businesses - which rely on trade internationally - are doing it tough. Others have had to lay people off, or shut up shop.
Both the Federal and State Governments are progressing initiatives designed to shore up employment and encourage economic activity. In recent weeks the State Government's travel voucher scheme proved extremely popular, and is going to make a big difference to tourism operators.
Local government too has made a difference through recovery initiatives.
In April, the City of Launceston adopted a $9m Community Care and Recovery Package, designed to provide six months of rent relief to community groups, sports clubs and businesses using council facilities, grant funding to small businesses to adapt to changing retail circumstances and support people in need.
It remains the largest local government-led response to the pandemic in Tasmania.
The City of Launceston invested nearly $800,000 in the innovation grants component of the program which helped nearly 150 small businesses remain open, kept Northern Tasmanians employed and helped businesses adapt to a new normal.
The package also included $465,000 in fee relief for businesses, a six-month rates remission for eligible businesses, a freeze to rate rises for the 2020-21 financial year, and a new Rates Hardship Policy to support those in need into the future - even once other parts of the program have concluded.
In addition, the council announced a $40m accelerated capital works program, bringing job-creating infrastructure improvement projects to market over a five-year period.
More than $1.2m of capital works are already underway as part of this program, $2.5m worth are in the procurement process, and a further $15.5m are being readied.
There are also exciting proposals like the Launceston Bus Interchange, the Birchalls building redevelopment, the creative industries precinct proposal, and more than $215m of approved planning projects on our books from the past financial year.
The City of Launceston believes projects like these will continue to make a positive difference for Northern Tasmania throughout the uncertain period ahead.
- Albert van Zetten, Launceston mayor.