Re­port on Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Alexi Boyd

Monthly Chronicle - - Business & Personal Finance -

Last Wed­nes­day night I spoke on be­half of small busi­ness at a par­tic­u­larly ex­cit­ing coun­cil meet­ing.

Dis­mayed by the com­plete omis­sion of small busi­ness ANY­WHERE in dis­cus­sion, strate­gic plans or con­sul­ta­tion for the last cou­ple of years the Hornsby Cham­ber, lo­cal busi­ness lead­ers and yours truly, have been per­sis­tently lob­by­ing coun­cil to bring small busi­ness back on the agenda. Plan­ning for the fu­ture of small busi­ness has lit­er­ally been miss­ing in the Hornsby shire since 2011.

It was strange that it fell off re­ally, con­sid­er­ing there are over 13,000 reg­is­tered busi­nesses in coun­cil’s area - the vast ma­jor­ity non-em­ploy­ing and work­ing from home. De­spite this, up to last month we had no coun­cil busi­ness events, no one to con­nect you to lo­cal busi­ness groups and no of­fi­cial events to sup­port small busi­ness in our shire. For 7 years.

Back in 2011 we did have an eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer. That one staff mem­ber that busi­nesses could rely on as a con­tact point and who cre­ates the scaf­fold­ing on which we can thrive. This is part of nor­mal eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment prac­tice at most other lo­cal coun­cils; pro­mot­ing lo­cal busi­ness events, hav­ing a busi­ness list­ing page on their web­site, host­ing fan­tas­tic ed­u­ca­tional, net­work­ing & in­no­va­tive events ... you name it. But af­ter 2011 Hornsby Coun­cil de­cided not to re­new the eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment strat­egy at all, and off the agenda we went.

That all changed on Wed­nes­day night thanks to the tire­less ef­forts of Cllr Janelle McIn­tosh. She raised mo­tions which were unan­i­mously sup­ported to bring eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment back onto the agenda. It was su­per ex­cit­ing. The passed mo­tions in­cluded: • amend­ing the de­liv­ery pro­gram to in­clude eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment as a KEY INI­TIA­TIVE Plan for a lo­cal, col­lab­o­ra­tive Fo­rum to pro­vide Coun­cil with on­go­ing ad­vice, in­for­ma­tion and lo­cal in­tel­li­gence re­gard­ing busi­ness, town cen­tres, tourism and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment in our Shire Out­line how Coun­cil could pro­mote and sup­port the ac­tiv­i­ties of the non­profit busi­ness net­work­ing groups through pro­mo­tion on Coun­cil's web­site and reg­u­lar an­nual um­brella events such as Small Busi­ness Month Thank those who par­tic­i­pated in the con­sul­ta­tion So… what’s next? Those who have been for years ad­vo­cat­ing for small busi­ness will gather our strengths and make sure that the coun­cil keeps small busi­ness top of mind. We’ll be ask­ing for bet­ter pro­mo­tion of the great events hosted by busi­ness groups al­ready here, ex­pect the coun­cil to de­liver on their prom­ise for small busi­ness month events, and look for­ward to bet­ter col­lab­o­ra­tion with coun­cil on their Fo­rum.

Why? Be­cause ac­cord­ing to pow­ers that be, Small Busi­ness is the en­gine room of the Aus­tralian econ­omy, the largest em­ployer and the driver of in­no­va­tion and growth - It’s no dif­fer­ent here.

In Hornsby, we just got a jump start. • • •

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