Fresh ideas for neighbourhood trade with new funding

24 July 2023

Iconic local retail and hospitality businesses across Melbourne are getting a boost thanks to new funding through the Business Precinct Program.

The Business Precinct Program provides annual financial support of up to $120,000 to recognised precinct trader associations representing important consumer-relevant areas of the municipality.

We are supporting 10 precinct associations with more than $850,000 in funding for 2023–24.

The funding is designed to support traders as they attract visitors to beloved retail and hospitality venues across 10 busy precincts in the municipality.

The funded precincts are:

  • Carlton Inc.
  • City Precinct
  • Collins Street Precinct Group
  • Docklands Chamber of Commerce
  • Greek Precinct Association
  • Kensington Business Association
  • Melbourne Chinatown Business Association
  • Melbourne City North Business Association
  • North & West Melbourne Precinct Association
  • Yarra River Business Association.

Get to know the new Chinatown business association

Among the recently funded business precinct associations is a fresh face for the oldest Chinatown in the Southern Hemisphere.

The new Melbourne Chinatown Business Association has already attracted 115 members from across the hospitality and retail sectors, some with generations-old connections to the iconic precinct.

Melbourne Chinatown Business Association President Christina Zhao

New President Christina Zhao is keen to inspire the next wave of visitors to Chinatown looking for hidden bar culture, as well as karaoke and more.

“We know people come to Chinatown for dumplings, and there are also very cool hidden rooftop bars and many other interesting reasons to come to here.”

The new association also firmly respects elements of traditional Chinese culture such as those on display in the Museum of Chinese Australian History.

Chinatown was the first place Christina visited when she moved from her home in Shanghai – where her parents still run hotels and restaurants, to study in Melbourne as an international student 10 years ago.

“Obviously Chinatown was the first destination for me. It’s a landmark. It represents Chinese community and history. It’s the food, the lanterns. The museum. It reminds me of China. The tradition.”

Setting up Chinatown for future success is Christina’s mission, and she’ll draw on the skills she gathered while majoring in entrepreneurship and innovation during studies for her MBA at Hebrew University in Israel.

Christina has already connected with many city businesses through the Melbourne City North Business Association she founded in 2021 and presided over until recently.

“I’ve always loved startups and innovation, and I’m good at bringing resources together, making the community better,” Christina said.

“Since I was a little girl, I’ve asked ‘how can I make the city better?’ I can bring everyone together to make a new thing.”

Around her, Christina has built a committee of local businesses and business experts.

“We want Chinatown to be busy all the time, from Monday to Sunday from brunch to dinner. If we can help the local businesses and help the economy, that’s something we really need to focus on.”

Events in Melbourne’s Chinatown for your calendar

Melbourne Chinatown Business Association is planning to deliver a variety of activities and business support initiatives in the next 12 months.

  • A colourful Chinatown market celebrating the precinct’s food and culture in 2024.
  • Traditional Mid-Autumn Harvest Festival.
  • Dragon Boat Festival in 2024.
  • Social events to foster connections between businesses.
  • Strong social media presence to support businesses.
Find Melbourne’s Chinatown on Little Bourke Street

All about Melbourne’s business precincts

Associations funded under the Business Precinct Program undertake activities to boost the trader area on behalf of their members. They also build a robust membership with local street traders to strengthen community.

The iconic Antipodes Festival has flavoured Lonsdale Street with Greek treats and traditions for decades. Planning is underway for community activations in Kensington and Docklands.

In North and West Melbourne last year, Dance this Way entertained diners with ballroom dancing and more, while City Precinct revealed the secrets of our laneways in a Christmas tour with a difference. Initiatives like Docklands Dollars and Carlton Cash helped stimulate the economy after lockdowns.

Precinct associations also create opportunities for local businesses to get to know one another and exchange information, run networking events and community festivals, and build regular communications with members.

Antipodes Festival in the Greek Quarter on Lonsdale Street in Melbourne

Dine, shop and play in your neighbourhood

Now is a great time to get behind the eclectic and multicultural business in vibrant precincts across the city, and take advantage of special offers and promotions.

To find out about exciting local food, retail and entertainment offerings near you, browse businesses and events at What’s On Melbourne and subscribe to the What’s On newsletter to be in-the-know. 

Top tips for business owners

1. Join your local precinct association to take advantage of the many opportunities on offer.

2. Subscribe to our Business in Melbourne newsletter for regular news and updates grants, free training and support.

3. For one-on-one advice, call our dedicated Business Concierge Service on 9658 9658 (press 1 for business), or submit your query online.

4. To learn more, visit Business support.

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