BUSINESS confidence was up across the New England on the back of recent rain, but now those gains have been decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Almost 80 Tamworth businesses reported confidence in the local economy was climbing, in a survey commissioned by Business NSW. It has revealed confidence in businesses across the state has plummeted due to the virus crisis.
The survey, which attracted more than 2000 responses from across NSW, showed businesses had taken a hit due to coronavirus.
Business NSW regional manager for New England North West Joe Townsend said several regions had also been hampered by pre-existing challenges such as drought and bushfires.
"The survey shows the transition from early-phase impacts relating to supply chain interruptions and reduced overseas visitor arrivals to the full-scale economic crisis we are now seeing," Mr Townsend said.
"Businesses in the Capital Far South and New England areas were also severely affected by the 2020 bushfires and drought and have now been hit with this pandemic.
"To date, the business impacts of COVID-19 are, so far felt the heaviest in the tourism industry, including Arts, Recreation, Hospitality, and Accommodation.
"The staffing and capital spending indicators have fallen sharply suggesting businesses are no longer investing and are in the process of reducing staffing costs."
Tamworth Business Chamber executive officer Sam Rains echoed Mr Townsend's concerns, despite local responses to the survey indicating confidence was still high.
"Business NSW released their data [on Thursday] saying confidence in business was down across the state," Mr Rains told the Leader.
"We had 79 responses from the New England-North West region, actually showing business confidence was actually up in the region.
"However, considering it was only 79 respondents, we don't believe that is a true reflection of the current economy.
"The recent rain and confidence in the farming sector would have had an impact on it, but still business confidence is down unfortunately."
Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson said the governments were doing all it could to help support local businesses during the pandemic.
"There is a significant amount of support for businesses that are COVID-19 affected," Mr Anderson said.
"Not only from a JobKeeper perspective, which will allow $1500 a fortnight to flow into bank accounts.
"That will be backdated to March 1, so there will be some cash flow, which will encourage workers to stay connected to their businesses and that was the key focus, the underlying component of that announcement.
"What we don't want them to do is to drift off into Centrelink, or drift off elsewhere because the stats show once they do go they rarely come back.
"'So if they can stay connected, that's a significant boost for regional economies and regional businesses."
Mr Anderson said "staying connected" was pivotal for the survival of businesses across the board.
"There's no doubt there has been a significant downturn on the back of hospitality and alike," he said.
"But we are really pleased to see that there are still significant businesses that are operating in the industrial estate in Tamworth.
"I've been keeping in touch with those businesses, in fact we are seeing businesses think outside the square.
"One large business, in Tamworth, this morning [Thursday] ordered $150 worth of takeaway coffees, from a cafe.
"That is just one great example of how businesses are thinking outside the square and are staying connected."