$800K up for grabs for Newcastle inner City businesses

Projects that are designed to draw people into Newcastle and make the city even more vibrant can now apply for a share in $800,000.

The funding is through Newcastle City Council’s Special Business Rate (SBR) program that uses levies paid by business owners for the promotion, beautification and development of precincts in the City Centre/Darby Street, Hamilton, Mayfield, New Lambton and Wallsend.

The next round of funding is now open with the $800,000 available for businesses specifically in the City Centre and Darby Street area.

More than $1.6 million was distributed through the SBR program in 2020/21 to 19 projects successful under the contestable funding rounds, as well as funding and support services for Business Improvements Associations in the five precincts. 


Modelling by REMPLAN shows last year’s SBR funding generated a total economic impact of $5,821,261 for the city with a return on investment of 349%.  

Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said it is a great opportunity and previous rounds of funding show it injects money, and people into the city.

“Based on analysis of our investment through the BIA funding program supporting local businesses, last year and the year before was $1.6 million and that resulted in over $5.8 million in economic investment into the city,” she said.

“We’ve seen a huge take up from local businesses whether they’re doing collective work and sharing, maps to show each other to their makers and traders around the city or whether they’re doing events like our inaugural food festival, we’ve seen a really great interest and take up of the contestable funding part of the BIA.”

“This has come at a really good particularly as local businesses feel the affect of people not being able to travel in NSW, I know we’re not as locked down as Sydney but everyone is nervous because they think it’s coming,” said Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes.

“That lack of foot traffic does have a flow on effect to all our local businesses.”

Councillor Carol Duncan said the round of funding for Hamilton was very successful.

“The City of Newcastle SBR funding has recently seen ten submissions come in that were before the selection panel and four of those have been successful.”

“The work that we’ve seen done by the BIA in Hamilton over the last 12 to 18 months in particular through this pandemic has been extraordinary, so to see them still working so hard on putting in quality submissions on ways to improve their community, their business support and their neighbourhood is impressive,” she said.

One group that has benefited from funding in the past is the Makers and Traders Newcastle group who created a Treasure Map which provides visitors and residents with a navigational guide to local businesses and experiences.

Angela Hailey is the co-founder of Studio Melt and a part of Makers and Traders Newcastle, and said every businesses should jump on board and apply for some funding whether you’re big or small.

“I think it’s a real opportunity, there’s a lot of businesses here, and from our perspective we are all too small to do something individually but it allows us to do something and I guess the commonality between us and the Council is we are working towards the same end and drawing people in to remind them what exists,” she said.

More information about the Special Business Rate program and funding opportunities can be found at newcastle.nsw.gov.au/special-business-rates. Applications for the City Centre / Darby Street funding close on 31 July 2021. 

Image credit: Jessica Rouse