The Yamba Chamber of Commerce held an open ‘think tank’ forum last week to discuss how to help grow businesses within the Yamba area. The forum followed the Yamba Chambers AGM which saw a change in leadership after president Sue Hughes announced she would not be re-electing her position. Wedding celebrant Margo Scott was elected to the role of president in her absence, as Ms Scott was away overseas. Yamba cinema owner Debbie McCredie was elected as vice-president, with Bev Mansfield returned to the position of secretary and Rick Angelo returned as treasurer. Just over 30 people attended the meeting which enabled them to voice their opinions and thoughts regarding the future, for Yamba businesses. Most of the focus on the evening was ‘tourist’ orientated and how to best get the town of Yamba ‘out there’ to the rest of the world and give those who visit, a reason to return. It was suggested that unlike annual events like ‘Surfing the Coldstream’ festival and the ‘Yamba Rod Run’, that the village of Yamba needed to focus on showcasing what it has to offer. An idea of naming this event ‘Yamba on Show’, would allow each business to take ownership on promoting their business, the best way they could, under the one community banner. The lack of a tourist information centre in Yamba was also raised as a concern as many people had encountered visitors seeking local knowledge and information, which was unavailable in Yamba. Mark Butler from the Grafton Chamber encouraged those attending the meeting to look beyond a one day event, stipulating that the town needed dollars from outside the area. He asked the question, ‘is there a ‘Country Week’ event in Brisbane. Mr Butler said that the Clarence Valley businesses needed to get the message out, at events such as ‘Country Week’, to showcase the Clarence Valley and what it has to offer. “Brisbane is only three hours away and as I see it, we have maybe a three to five year time frame to make the valley a destination, or we will be by-passed,” he said. Grafton Chamber of Commerce president Phil Bellatty added that we need to think about what other industries are needed in the valley besides tourism. “We only need to look at how fickle the tourism industry can be with what is happening at Byron Bay with the shark issue at the moment,” he said. Mr Bellatty suggested maybe we need to look further afield; as an example, with our aging community maybe we need to look at aged care facilities or lifestyle villages. Another question raised was ‘are we too busy working in our businesses, to work on them’. A whiteboard was filled with suggestions and ideas from the floor to give businesses potential growth ideas to ponder. The Grafton Chamber of Commerce will hold its ‘think tank’ forum at 5.30pm on Wednesday, 19 October, at the Crown Hotel in Grafton.