Welcome rain across parts of the Orana region in the past fortnight has given beleaguered businesses some cause for optimism, Dubbo Chamber of Commerce president Matt Wright says.
A survey of businesses late last year showed confidence in the Orana and Far West was well into negative territory, but this month's wet weather had raised the prospect of a turnaround, he said.
"I've spoken to a couple of businesses that service businesses themselves, and have already had contact from those businesses to say 'We've got some work, we're keen to go ahead and do it now'," Mr Wright said.
"So we're starting to see as a result of that, just that little bit of optimism and businesses willing to spend a bit of money and invest."
So we're starting to see as a result of that, just that little bit of optimism and businesses willing to spend a bit of money and invest.Dubbo Chamber of Commerce president Matt Wright
But he and others know there's a long haul yet before conditions and confidence fully bounce back.
The NSW Business Chamber's December business conditions survey showed a "triple threat" of the bushfire disaster, drought and weak household demand was hurting business. The latest quarterly NAB business survey showed business conditions across NSW were flat in the December quarter.
NSW shadow treasurer Walt Secord said a sharp decline in business conditions for small and medium businesses was evident in the NAB report, and it was "damning".
"Last week we saw poor December retail spending numbers along with weak dwelling approval numbers," he said.
"This is further evidence that the NSW economy is lagging due to the mismanagement of the Berejiklian government.
"NSW has slipped behind Victoria and can no longer claim to be the engine room of the Australian economy."
Minister for Finance and Small Business Damien Tudehope defended the government's response.
"We know our regional communities and businesses are doing it tough," he said.
"There is no quick fix, but we need cash to start flowing in drought and bushfire impacted areas.
"That's why we are delivering local infrastructure projects and easing costs for farmers, we have partnered with the federal government to provide grants and loans for bushfire-affected businesses and primary producers, we have started the clean-up process which will involve local contractors and we're saying to families 'Now's the Time to Love NSW' and spend a weekend in a regional town.
"The NSW government runs a strong budget so we can respond to situations like this and we stand ready to do all we can to help our regional economies so they can recover and rebuild as quickly as possible.
"Our regional communities are resilient and Labor should be talking up the people and businesses in the bush instead of putting them down."