The Grafton Chamber of Commerce held a ‘Think Tank’ forum on Wednesday, October 19, at the Crown Hotel, Grafton, to discuss issues concerning businesses in the Grafton area and how to make business more sustainable for the future.
Around 70 people attended the meeting which was made up of Clarence Valley Council representatives, business owners and concerned members of the community.
Discussion from the floor flowed freely with the Clarence Valley Council coping a hiding from many frustrated businesses for lack of support and red tape holding businesses back, from forging ahead.
One comment which came from a business owner looking to invest in Grafton, came as a wakeup call.
“The first impression you get when you come into Grafton, is neglect,” she said.
“There is a lack of maintenance, empty shops and shop fronts in need of a good clean up.
“Landlords need to drop their rents for the first 12 months. Little fish are sweet and it’s far better to have someone in your business, than no one at all.
These words were followed by a vocal “hear hear” by the crowd.
Another business owner added “go and walk down Prince Street or South Grafton – the town looks tired,” he said.
“Where’s our pride.
It was not just business within the CBD that was discussed. The agricultural industry was discussed with the emergence of both the blueberry and macadamia industries starting to embrace the valley.
The statement was made that we need to be supporting these industries and the idea of a processing facility for the Clarence Valley, was raised.
Other concerns raised from business owners was the slow internets speeds affecting their businesses and the problems associated with a lack of parking within the CBD.
The introduction of other festivals eg a blueberry festival was tossed around, with some arguing that we already have a Jacaranda Festival and maybe we need to get behind and support what is already in place.
Chamber Vice President Des Harvey said last Wednesday night’s Chamber of Commerce “Think Tank” supported by the “CV Independent” newspaper, attracted approximately sixty business and community leaders and was a great success. There was a wide range of interesting issues, frustrations and opportunities identified.
Mr Harvey said Chamber would collate the points raised and expected further meetings would be called so that action plans could be formulated.