Since going live with the Northland Inc Business Support helpline last week, our growth advisers have been deeply affected by the conversations they've had with businesspeople across all sectors in the region.
It is clear Northland business owners - whether in tourism, hospitality, retail or the primary sectors - care passionately about doing the right thing by their staff during these unprecedented times.
Many of our employers and their staff, who only a fortnight ago were engaged in business as usual, are enduring sleepless nights as they come to terms with this short, sharp economic shock.
Every day, we are hearing their stories as they switch into survival mode and try to navigate a path through the nationwide lockdown and the extraordinary conditions in which we now operate.
Our message to the business community is you are not alone. We might, by necessity, be in isolation, but we can still reach out to those affected: help and support is here if you need it.
In the first instance, please phone our support helpline, funded by the national Regional Business Partner Network, on 0800 525 001. Our growth advisers can offer expert advice and information about the Government-funded packages available to businesses and the self-employed.
We can help you make sense of the myriad streams of information that we are assimilating on a daily basis, or simply direct you to the appropriate agency to help in your specific circumstances.
Whether you require information about wage subsidies or clarification regarding essential versus non-essential commercial activities, we are here to listen and advise. There is no denying these are challenging times for all of us and our team aims to be as compassionate as it is resourceful: a listening ear at all times.
In these uncertain weeks, clear and concise information is of paramount importance. To that end, Northland Inc is also offering a business/information service that will reach out to a range of industry sectors. This service will provide an overall business view to the Northland Civil Defence Emergency Group and stakeholders to assist them with the regional response to Covid-19.
It would be disingenuous to pretend that we know what things will look like when we come out the other side of this, when we re-enter "real" life again after lockdown. Like everything else in global pandemic conditions, the economic situation is fluid and fast-moving.
One thing I do know, though, after speaking to so many Northlanders over the past week is that our region is bursting with people who care deeply about their clients and customers, who care deeply about their staff and who care deeply about the products and services they provide.
It is fair to say that not one of them expected to be in a position where outside support was required to meet payroll this week, for example, but that has become their new reality and they are facing it head-on, unfailingly proactive and determined to keep their enterprises afloat, whatever it takes.
Their efforts are not always seen by the outside world, but make no mistake, they are being made every hour of every day.
For our part, we will continue to do everything we can to support the business community through these challenging times and to be there, too, when we can start to talk more precisely about recovery. We are Northlanders, after all, and we will continue to keep rising to the challenge. It's what we do.
Kia kaha Northland, stay connected and, above all, stay safe.
• Murray Reade is chief executive of Northland Inc, the regional economic development agency.