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More than 30 events designed to help local small businesses grow and create more jobs will take place across Bendigo over the coming month.

Winter Olympic gold medallist Lydia Lassila OAM, who used a sports injury as motivation to build a successful small business, is one of many inspirational speakers at this year’s Bendigo Small Business Festival.

“Lydia’s story is an inspirational example of how small business owners can combine great ideas and hard work to achieve amazing results. Small businesses make an incredible contribution to their communities and the economy, and we are making sure they have the tools and information they need to grow and create more jobs for Victorians.”

Minister for Small Business, Innovation and Trade Philip Dalidakis

The Festival, which kicked off today, is one of nine being held in regional Victoria as part of the state-wide Small Business Festival.

The festival features more than 500 events across Victoria on topics ranging from social media, digital marketing and innovation to networking, business planning and financial management.

Ms Lassila underwent a knee reconstruction in 2005 only to have her knee collapse six months later at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin. She famously fought back to win a gold medal at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and her journey back to the top also led her to start building a small business.

“The Small Business Festival is great for anyone who has an idea for a small business but isn’t sure how to get started, or someone who has already established a small business and wants to grow it.”

BodyICE founder Lydia Lassila

Frustrated with the ice treatments available, Ms Lassila created her own and set up BodyICE, a successful small business offering a range of cold and heat packs for use during rehabilitation.

Victoria has more than 556,000 small businesses that play a crucial role in our economy, contributing about a third of the state’s output in goods and services and generating almost half of all private sector jobs.

Bendigo MP Maree Edwards launched the Bendigo program of events last week.

The Andrews Labor Government is supporting the small business sector by lowering payroll tax, cutting red tape, reducing payment times and strengthening the Victorian Small Business Commission to help resolve disputes.

As well as the annual festival, Small Business Victoria offers workshops and mentoring sessions all year round and takes information to small businesses using the Small Business Bus.

For more information on this year’s festival and the events being held near you go to festival.business.vic.gov.au.