Nearly $1 million has been given to Bay businesses to help them survive the lockdown and build their business post-Covid-19.
The funding provided a "lifeline" for hundreds of Bay businesses which had to quickly adapt to new ways of working and focus on how to recover from the fallout.
Businesses could apply for financial support from a Covid-19 Business Advisory Fund to gain access to local expert advice, resources and training to build their business capability as part of the Regional Business Partner Network.
The programme is facilitated by the Tauranga Chamber of Commerce in conjunction with the Rotorua and Eastern Bay chambers and Poutama Trust.
More than 600 Tauranga businesses and well over 100 in Rotorua applied for the funding and more than $1m was distributed across the wider Bay of Plenty.
Rotorua Chamber of Commerce chief executive Bryce Heard said there had been "huge demand" for support.
"The businesses that registered have been working four to five times their normal workloads to get through," he said.
"A lot of businesses received support through the programme and that is valuable support at the moment."
Heard said the programme was important in that it allowed businesses to come to terms with the situation and provided financial support to allow them to start to think about how to recover.
"I think we will all think differently about the future moving forward. We have got to find new pathways."
Hickey Contractors managing director Seth Pardoe said at a time when people were in a state of flux the support offered an opportunity to look at how businesses were going to get through the other side.
"Six weeks ago we didn't know how long that would be."
Pardoe worked with one of the Regional Business Partner's registered providers The Icehouse, which he said allowed them to be on the front foot before returning to work in level 3.
With the support, Pardoe said he developed a continuity plan that looked at how the company that offers civil construction services including earthworks, roading and landscaping could comply with the new rules in alert level 3 and 2.
That meant he was able to send a draft document outlining the new rules regarding PPE gear, contact tracing and social distancing for his staff before the Government gave the green light for construction to go back to work.
"We have been operating that way ever since."
Pardoe said the restrictions had slowed up work a bit and they were trying to work out how they could recoup some of those costs.
But he said being able to be on the front foot meant they never lost any staff and the money from the Government helped.
He said the support was "incredible".
"Those conversations with The Icehouse were so valuable.
"It was such a shock you didn't know what the future looked like. It was pretty stressful. Without the support I think we would be in a completely different headspace."
Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Matt Cowley said there was an "overwhelming response" from the business community seeking support.
"The funding provided a much-needed lifeline for some businesses by connecting them with the right people to rethink their business position and adapt quickly for the ever-changing world that Covid-19 has created."
While the initial Covid-19 Business Advisory Fund has now been fully allocated, the Regional Business Partner programme was offered year-round.
Business for Babysitters Club founder Georgia Meek ground to a halt overnight when the lockdown was enforced.
"We had cancellation after cancellation. Our business went to nothing overnight."
Meek said it was the most unsettling time she had ever experienced.
"I have put blood, sweat and tears into this business. I have literally put my heart on my sleeve trying to make this work."
Determined to adapt her business in order to survive, Meek contacted the Regional Business Partner Network team at the Tauranga Chamber of Commerce.
Through the support of the Covid-19 funding, Meek was able to access one-on-one support, advice and business planning for free through one of the RBP's registered providers The Icehouse.
With that support, Meek raised more than $5000 from a Givealittle page set up to provide essential workers and small business owners with three free hours of babysitting, a home-cooked meal from Blank Canvas Catering and a bottle of wine from WineFriend.
Her business was now also offering a flexible nannying service, with no lock-in contracts, "world-class care" and no admin.
Meek said the support from the Regional Business Partner programme was "priceless".
"I think when you are in a state of overwhelm we don't think the way we normally would," she said.
"It allows someone to build confidence in you again. It makes you step back from the panic and see what you are good at. It was really powerful to have that person."
She called the funding and support a "lifeline".
"I don't know where I would be without having their support. My mindset would be in a totally different space," she said.
"I feel a lot more settled. I don't feel that same sense of overwhelming."