During Small Business Month I wish to emphasise the importance of small businesses and to inform the House about what this Government is doing to support them. The St George community, my local community, boasts an array of successful small businesses which contribute to a healthy local economy. As a former small business owner I understand the concerns that owners have and the pressures that they are under.
I have thoroughly enjoyed visiting small businesses across the electorate this month and sharing the stories of many passionate owners. We are blessed in the St George area with a diversity of small businesses. From mechanics to wholesalers to cafes, our local area has a wide selection of options to reflect the diverse needs of the community. This is important, as it allows members of the community to shop locally and keep their money within the local economy. Whether it be Spago in Beverly Hills, Jumbuck Meats in Oatley, Little Alley Cafe in Narwee, the Lugarno Pool Shop or Mortdale Wholesalers, our local area is blessed with exceptional service and dedicated business owners. These kinds of businesses drive local economies. Small businesses employ almost two million people across New South Wales. In the words of former Prime Minister John Howard, they are the engine room of Australia.
I am proud to say that this Government has never forgotten the importance of small businesses to New South Wales. Its support for them is reflected in our strong economic figures. Small businesses also play a large part in developing the character and atmosphere of local areas. Beautiful destinations such as Edmonds & Greer in Oatley and Jaaks in Kyle Bay provide places for residents to relax and enjoy the beauty of our local area. It is important to support small businesses for areas like ours to retain their character, relaxed atmosphere and natural setting. Often the work of small business owners and employees goes unnoticed. They are the unsung heroes of our local communities. This makes Small Business Month such a worthwhile initiative. October is a chance for all of us to support small businesses and thank them for the positive impact they have on our society.
This Government truly recognises the importance of small businesses across New South Wales. This Government is committed to encouraging innovation and supporting small businesses at all stages of growth. This Government knows that supporting small businesses creates jobs and stimulates the economy. This Government is investing in the skills New South Wales needs to grow. The establishment of the Disability Sector Scale-Up program is improving the commercial viability of small and medium enterprises in the disability sector. We have also recently made a $30 million investment in the TAFE NSW Skills for Business Initiative that is upskilling employees in vital business areas.
This Government is also committed to supporting regional businesses and communities. The $110 million Regional Tourism Infrastructure Fund is attracting more businesses to regional areas and helping to offset job shortages created by the drought. Coupled with this, Regional Development Australia is in partnership with the Federal Government to develop further regional projects. We also recognise the value of investment. Therefore, this Government is furthering tax relief to encourage businesses to put more money back into the economy. This includes a $6,000 Payroll Tax Rebate Scheme, a $2,000 small business employment initiative and further small business grants. Those measures, coupled with the WeAgree program and the Boosting Business Innovation Program, are helping to encourage prospective owners and drive new ideas for businesses.
As well as encouraging investment, innovation and skills development the Government is committed to streamlining the process for small business owners when running their business. Further to these initiatives, we are committed to ensuring the concerns of small businesses are heard and represented. The NSW Small Business Commissioner was appointed as an independent advocate for small business in New South Wales, providing advocacy and dispute resolution mediation services. I have welcomed her to my electorate to speak to many local small businesses there. The Government represents the interests of owners and ensures that we as a Parliament are never neglecting the concerns of such important people in our society. I encourage everyone to join this Government in supporting local small business during Small Business Month. I also thank small business owners and employees across New South Wales for the contribution they have made to our local communities.