There is no doubt there have been some tough times faced by Lower Hunter businesses in recent months.
They were impacted - whether directly or indirectly - by bushfires that hit our region over summer.
And just when they thought life could get back to normal, they were caught up in the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.
Some were forced to close for an unknown period of time, others had to rethink how they continued to operate.
All have been impacted by the fact that the customer - those people who keep them in business - had also dropped significantly because of the social distancing and stay-at-home orders in place.
The Maitland Mercury is eager to support our struggling local businesses through every challenge with its latest initiative - Business Hour.
This is to be held every Wednesday night from May 20, for four weeks at 6pm on our Facebook page.
Business people are encouraged to please keep an eye out for our Facebook post at this time and then join us by commeting on how they are coping with the easing restrictions.
They can also add their trading details and any special conditions that apply.
Business Hour provides a chance for local businesses to reach out to our readers to let them know that they are open for business and any special deals or offers they may have running.
This initiative is also a chance for people to be supportive of their local businesses.
The post will be moderated and any inappropriate comments will be removed.
Business Hour follows on from our free 'Open for Business' listing on the home page of our website for the past two months.
Many of the region's business people have shared their details and modified terms of operation on the listing.
We are now keen to move our support for local businesses into the next phase.
This comes in the wake of slightly eased restrictions as of May 15.