A remote meeting of business leaders, Chamber of Commerce, Armidale councillors and council staff was held on Wednesday in response to the rapid, growing damage being experienced by local businesses from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Armidale Business Chamber president Anthony Fox said the effects of the disease were already very severe for many businesses, and it was likely to get worse.
"The first responsibility though is public health. I don't want to minimise that for one second. Health and business are, of course, intrinsically intertwined. This is the challenge," Mr Fox said.
"Today's meeting provided the opportunity for business people to come together and share their concerns and ideas to help sustain business during and after the COVID-19 crisis.
"Working Groups will now be formed to allow further opportunity for ideas to be shared, and guidance from business people on what council can do, immediately and in the long-term, to support consumer confidence in local businesses."
Mayor Simon Murray said the overwhelming theme was that we must stick together and keep local business front of mind for consumers.
"We know the Armidale region business community is hurting, and council understands the huge financial pressures being placed on business owners and staff," he said.
"Council will play a role in minimising the impact of COVID-19 on businesses during the necessary forced shutdowns and home isolation.
"However, there is no doubt this is having a profound effect on consumer confidence with more hurt for businesses and the community in the coming weeks."
Council staff will fast track the establishment of the new Business Hub in the old Armidale Library Building, to be ready to support business recovery and new initiatives when this pandemic crisis subsides.
Planners, building development and other business facing council staff will all be located in the hub and rooms would be available to encourage business collaboration.
As a one-stop-shop for the business community and new start-up ventures, it will be a centralised place to assist them all.