The three-month delay to become eligible for the $10,000 bushfire recovery grants was too long to wait for some businesses forced to close in Wangaratta and Indigo shires after spending months without visitors.
But for others, this week's announcement that they have now been included in the joint federal and Victorian scheme will be just the boost they need to get back on track.
The grants for small businesses and primary producers that lost income due to the 2019-20 bushfires, announced in March, were previously only for regions such as Alpine and Towong directly hit by the fires.
Indi MP Helen Haines said the economic loss from tourism across the whole North East from the bushfires was between $158 million and $208 million.
"It didn't matter if you were affected by the flames or not, if you had a business that was reliant upon tourism, you were impacted significantly," she said.
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"There are businesses that have gone to the wall in the waiting period.
"I'm very, very sorry about that, but I'm delighted that our businesses can now apply for these grants."
She said Wangaratta and Indigo had been made to wait for too long, but credited the three-month campaign and teamwork of federal, state and local governments for making the change.
"We heard at the Bushfire Royal Commission that this wait has been too long, that the exclusion of postcodes has been detrimental to communities," Dr Haines said.
Victorian Senator Jane Hume described the work to get more council areas eligible as a "Liberal team effort", saying she, Benambra MP Bill Tilley and Eildon MP Cindy McLeish lobbied the Victorian government.
"Small business has been hit hard by not only bushfires, but also the Coronavirus pandemic. These grants will assist recovery and see businesses back stronger on the other side of the pandemic," she said.
Mr Tilley said Indigo Shire had first lost its Easter trade, then the tens of thousands of people who would normally visit for Winery Walkabout this long weekend.
"This bankrolls the wineries, accommodation houses, restaurants and all the associated jobs, direct and indirect, throughout the winter" he said.
Wangaratta mayor Dean Rees apologised to Dr Haines for the "hammering" of phone calls as they all fought to be included in the grants scheme.
He and council chief executive Brendan McGrath also travelled to Canberra to make their case directly to Peter Cosgrove, who is leading a national business bushfire recovery initiative.
"We've got a number of businesses that were greatly affected by the fire season, not that they were specifically burnt out, but they lost all their tourism and basically had to shut up shop," Cr Rees said.
"Some of those businesses probably won't open because it did take too long, however at council we're here to help them as well."
He said he hoped the grants will help to get others back on track.
Indigo mayor Jenny O'Connor said it was the best news since the beginning of this year.
"I was talking to business owners and one actually burst into tears when I told her about it," she said.
"This really means a lot to our small main street businesses - their margins are already very slim."
She thanked the government ministers who listen to pleas from the council and businesses.
"I think they were feeling as if they had been forgotten about. This is not just an economic boost, but I think it's a very important confidence booster and a hopeful way forward to say that these communities really do matter," Cr O'Connor said.
"It makes a huge difference to know that they do listen and they do care.
"We're going to see now our businesses be able to survive something that was in fact talking them to the wall.
"Some of them have fallen over, they're not going to come back.
"That's a devastating thing in small rural communities, but for those that were on the edge, this is allowing them to go forward."