GOVERNMENT ASSISTANCE: Rockhampton Jockey Club CEO Tony Fenlon was delighted to receive a government grant to help their business get back on its feet following the COVID-19 pandemic.
GOVERNMENT ASSISTANCE: Rockhampton Jockey Club CEO Tony Fenlon was delighted to receive a government grant to help their business get back on its feet following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rockhampton Jockey Club tracking towards economic recovery

CENTRAL Queensland’s small businesses like the Rockhampton Jockey Club are riding out the impacts of COVID-19 thanks to $196 million in business adaptation grants being handed out by the Queensland Government.

The 152-year-old racing club recently secured $8,500 to access expert advice to help them with strategic planning as well as upgrade their software to improve their efficiency.

On Wednesday the club hosted a Buy Queensland roadshow event which was attended by special guests the Minister for Employment and Small Business Shannon Fentiman, Minister for Regional Development Glenn Butcher, Keppel MP Brittany Lauga and Rockhampton MP Barry O’Rourke.

Rockhampton Jockey Club CEO Tony Fenlon said the club had engaged another Queensland small business, Carmalk consulting, to help restructure and become more efficient and move away from double manual handling, rostering of staff, time sheet check ins, and improve communication with staff and stakeholders.

Tony Fenlon from the Rockhampton Jockey Club at Callaghan Park.
Tony Fenlon from the Rockhampton Jockey Club at Callaghan Park.

“The club experienced a downturn of about 60 per cent as it had to shut down its non-racing venue business that catered for large functions such as weddings and race meetings were reduced to one or two a month and ticket sales moved online,” Mr Fenlon said.

“The grant arrived at the right time to help the business get back on track after COVID-19 devastated our event business and restricted our race meetings.

“As a community club we are delighted to have received the small business grant as it will allow us to complete a much-needed review and updates.”

Ms Fentiman acknowledged CQ’s small businesses had been doing it tough during the pandemic.

“As part of Queensland’s economic recovery plan, Unite and Recover, we are backing our local businesses like the Jockey Club to keep their doors open and keep Queenslanders in jobs,” Ms Fentiman said.

Minister for Employment and Small Business Shannon Fentiman said many of CQ’s small businesses had benefited from grants provided by her government. Photographer: Liam Kidston.
Minister for Employment and Small Business Shannon Fentiman said many of CQ’s small businesses had benefited from grants provided by her government. Photographer: Liam Kidston.

“These grants are giving thousands of Queensland businesses the cash injection they need to work smarter and adapt their business.”

Ms Lauga said the historic club had experienced numerous challenges in the past and this grant money would ensure they endured.

“The club has a history of bouncing back after setbacks including the cancellation of the Rockhampton Carnival Races in 1919 due to the Spanish flu,” Ms Lauga said

“More recently in 2011 floods closed the Callaghan Park track and 11 race meetings had to be cancelled.”

According to Mr O’Rourke, 200 Rockhampton small businesses had received more than $1.7 million in grants from the program.

“Never before has this level of support been made available for small businesses here in Rockhampton,” Mr O’Rourke said.

“Grants are supporting businesses in Rocky across a range of industries including a transport business and sports clubs to a bakery and ice cream parlour.

“I encourage more local small businesses to apply as round two is still open to businesses in Rockhampton.”

Minister Butcher said a key focus of the Queensland Government’s Unite and Recover plan was backing small business and growing our regions.

“We know how important it is to back small businesses – especially in our regions – because they are the heart and soul of our communities,” Mr Butcher said.

“We also understand that for regional economies to grow and local businesses to expand, there need to be skilled local workers available to take up these new opportunities.

Keppel MP Brittany Lauga, Minister for Regional Development and Manufacturing Glenn Butcher and Rockhampton MP Barry O'Rourke say their government was delivering a range of support programs to assist with the economic recovery.
Keppel MP Brittany Lauga, Minister for Regional Development and Manufacturing Glenn Butcher and Rockhampton MP Barry O'Rourke say their government was delivering a range of support programs to assist with the economic recovery.

“That’s why we’re delivering a range of support programs, including $70 million to extend the Back to Work program and $10 million to extend Skilling Queenslanders for Work.”

While Ms Fentiman was in CQ, Ms Lauga took the opportunity to introduce her to many of Yeppoon’s businesses including the Keppel Bay Sailing Club, Driftwood Boutique & Decor, Gypsy Lane, Zest Boutique, Moana Blue, Yogolicious Cafe, Scoffins Jewellers and Ready 24 Gym.

“This pandemic has been tough for so many Queenslanders, so it was great to hear how the Palaszczuk Government’s economic recovery plan is helping local businesses keep their doors open and their workers in jobs,” Ms Lauga said.

“Small businesses across Rocky and Yeppoon are benefiting from our fantastic initiatives like the COVID-19 Small Business Adaption Grants, free Mentoring for Growth sessions, and our Back to Work program.

“With our borders closed, there’s never been a better time for Queenslanders to travel within our beautiful state and #SupportSmall.

“If you’re around Yeppoon, I’d highly recommend dropping by James Street and visiting some of the fantastic local businesses.”

Queensland Government support available for the Rockhampton region includes:

  • Almost $200 million in Small Business COVID-19 Adaption Grants
  • Free online TAFE courses
  • $70 million extension to Back to Work program with a new boost payment of up to $20,000 to employ an apprentice or trainee who was previously unemployed
  • Free apprenticeships and traineeships for under 21s
  • Payroll tax relief
  • Energy rebates for households and small and medium sized businesses
  • 25 per cent procurement target for small and medium sized businesses – $4 billion of support each year


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