Dormant chamber faces uncertain days
The Pilbara Inland Chamber of Commerce and Industry has been dormant throughout this year and faces an uncertain future in a sign of the difficult economic climate in Tom Price and Paraburdoo.
The group has held only a few meetings this year, has no chairman since former chairwoman Sarah Kemp moved away months ago, and was not part of the Pilbara Regional Chambers of Commerce group which hosted the Pilbara Economic Development Conference in Perth recently , with the Onslow Chamber of Commerce and Industry the only participant chamber from the Shire of Ashburton.
PICCI vice-chairman Josh Stevens said while a handful of committee members remained and at least one meeting had been held in Paraburdoo in recent months, the PICCI lacked active involvement and had “fallen to bits a bit” as resource industry redundancies had taken their toll on the local workforce.
“There’s certainly no new businesses coming to town and, unfortunately, the old businesses are dwindling,” he said.
“With Rio redundancies, it really affects both towns.”
The Shire of Ashburton council expressed concern at the lack of business group engagement in Tom Price and Paraburdoo in a November meeting agenda item about the Ashburton Community and Business Directory, which members hoped could help reenergise it.
The PICCI’s progress is in contrast to that of the Onslow Chamber of Commerce and Industry which, despite forming only four years ago in a smaller town, has grown to include more than 120 members and last month won a WA Regional Community Achievement Award.
OCCI chief executive Chantelle King said hard work and forming strong partnerships had been key to their gradual growth, although Onslow had also been less affected by the mining boom because of its different industrial profile.
She said the OCCI was willing to help the PICCI get back on its feet.
“We’re here to help them if we can, in any way,” she said.
Mr Stevens said he hoped the PICCI would be more active next year but it would depend on the economic environment in both towns.