The Chamber of Commerce in Grafton and Yamba are calling on businesses from around the Clarence Valley to attend their upcoming think tank forums and express their ideas to help inject growth into our local businesses.
Executive Officer of the Grafton Chamber of Commerce Mark Butler said that the idea of the ‘think tank’ forum came up during a meeting which was instigated by Clarence Valley Independent senior management, regarding the number of empty shops in Grafton and what could be done to be more proactive in the business community.
“We need the different areas of business and even industry to look at what we can do to fill our commercial spaces and what we need to do to attract other businesses into town to fill those spaces; that’s why we need to have this think tank, to ensure that we’re heading in the right direction,” said Mr Butler.
“We need to ask ourselves questions, like what about our farmers business; what are their needs when they come into town for supplies?
“This may give us an insight into the needs of that type of business and to help us cater for those needs, so this is where the think tank comes in.
“Were not just talking about the pure commercial shop front side, it’s also the industrial type space and needs within the greater Grafton area,” he said.
Grafton Chamber of Commerce president Phil Belletty said that from the Chambers perspective, they needed to know what’s going on in town. We are organising meetings with the South Grafton Progress Association as well as Steve McKimm from McKimms Real Estate to gain a greater perspective on issues regarding the empty commercial premises.
“We need to find out if it’s the high rents, is it that we don’t have the population base or is it the advice being given by financial institutions,” said Mr Belletty.
“We won’t know until we sit down and go through all these issues.
“We have some ideas but we are open to new ideas and we want to hear from the broader community,” he said.
Chamber vice-president Des Harvey said that realistically the think tank meeting, will be an open forum.
“We need property owners, real estate agents and any one that’s involved in business that would be able to contribute to the conversation,” said Mr Harvey.
Mr Butler said that we need to know what our needs are for the future and how are we going to sustain business and grow the area after the highway by passes this part of the valley (Grafton).
“As part of this think tank we will need to discuss this topic and ask how we can make Grafton a destination that people want to come to,” said Mr Butler.
“Whether it’s the shopping experience, the attractions etc we need to look further afield to not just today or tomorrow, so that when these construction projects (the Grafton Bridge and Pacific Highway upgrade) are finished, we have a sustainable future.
“It’s hard to make changes if we don’t know what people are thinking,” he said.
does business want from us?
And whilst the issues surrounding the Yamba business precinct are different from those of Grafton, Yamba Chamber of Commerce president Sue Hughes said that she is hoping the think tank meeting will provide the Yamba Chamber with a view from businesses on how the Chamber can help and support them.
“The think tank forum will be an opportunity to ask the business community, what do you want from us and how can we work together,” said Ms Hughes.
“It will also be a good opportunity to meet the new business in town and who knows, they may even want to join the chamber.
“The Yamba Chamber has already initiated three or four projects which are on the go.
“We are enhancing the signage to the entrance into Yamba, creating a new services directory, positioning solar lights in trees within the CBD and creating three interactive signs (which visitors can put their face through to have photos taken) along with a new Christmas tree to help enhance the visitor experience come the festive season,” she said.
“The Yamba Chamber has also been working behind the scenes with the RMS regarding the off ramps on the new Pacific Highway.
“They’ve taken our views on board and we’ve had a positive outcome. (These can be viewed on the RMS site).
Yamba Chamber of Commerce secretary Bev Mansfield said that businesses from all around Yamba had been canvassed to notify them of the upcoming think tank meeting.
“Although the reaction has been very positive, so far we have not had a huge response as to how many people will be attending the meeting,” said Mrs Mansfield.
“If people can’t attend, they can contact us and let us know their ideas and what they’d like to see happen in the future.
“Even if the businesses are not members of the Chamber of Commerce, they are still welcome to come along and voice their input.
“We as the Chamber need to know businesses want from their Chamber and what they want the chamber to help them with,” she said.
Yamba Chamber of Commerce Business Think Tank forum:
6pm Monday, 10 October, 2016 at Yamba Bowling Club Boardwalk Bar
Contact: Sue Hughes email: [email protected]
Grafton Chamber of Commerce Business Think Tank forum:
5.30pm Wednesday, 19 October, 2016 at the Crown Hotel, Prince Street, Grafton
RSVP by 14 October, 2016 on 6695 2222 or email: [email protected]