If South Grafton is down and out, someone forgot to tell the numerous businesses that have flocked to the Southside, and are doing a roaring trade.
Rob Connell is at the helm of the Grafton Motor Group (formerly Black Toyota), which invested $5million to relocate to the southside around eight years ago. Business has boomed, according to Mr Connell, and despite the stereotype of South being a trouble spot, vandalism has actually decreased by around 50 to 60 per cent.
“If you didn’t have confidence in this side of the river, you wouldn’t invest that sort of money,” he said.
“We don’t have any trouble here at all … and as a business we’ve actually grown.”
Mr Connell said South Grafton had become the business centre of the region, with big business flocking to take advantage of plentiful space and access to two highways. Recent major investment has included the BP site, BCF, and Bridgestone.
The positive sentiment was echoed by Paul Felice, of Farmer Lous. Like the Grafton Motor Group, Farmer Lous relocated from Grafton to the southside, and has never looked back.
“The business has gone from strength to strength, and we’ve actually had less broken windows here in South Grafton,” he said.
“There’s a lot of good people over here, and people from the Grafton side have also followed us.”
Mr Felice said he lived on the outskirts of South Grafton, and he found it a great place to live.
The comments followed airing of an ABC television program last week, “Back Roads”, which cast South Grafton as an area of “have nots”, beaming images of dilapidated homes to hundreds of thousands of viewers throughout Australia.
Salvation Army Major Colin Young slammed the program as “awful”. He said the needy who sought help from the Salvos were from throughout the region, and there were concentrations of poor people on both sides of the river.
Mr Young said he grew up in Mt Druitt, which suffered similar stereotypes, and such characterisations had the potential to do an area harm.
In relation to “Back Roads”, Mr Felice added that images taken in Bimble Avenue of deteriorating homes would have been the opposite, had the camera simply been turned 180 degrees to take images of high-class homes across the road.