Chamber calls on council, community for support
Finley’s businesses are under severe pressure and without more support they could start to fail.
That was the warning impressed on three Berrigan Shire councillors who attended a Finley Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture meeting in Finley on Monday night.
Mayor Matt Hannan and councillors John Bruce and John Taylor heard from local business owners who said they are aware of two businesses who are reviewing their future in Finley.
They say part of the problem is that not enough members of the community are embracing the shop local message.
The meeting was called to discuss the results of a chamber business survey, which offered suggestions that could improve the Finley central business district.
Discussion soon turned to a perceived lack of economic and business support from the council.
Chamber president Gary Carr said while there is no onus on Berrigan Shire to ensure a particular business model works, the concerns raised did highlight that council’s economic development support was not as strong as it should be.
He said without improvement, small businesses in Finley and the wider Berrigan Shire will continue to struggle and potentially close.
‘‘The times are changing and business models need to adapt, however we encourage the shire to think local first as it will encourage its own residents to do the same.
‘‘Two businesses are under threat of closure, and we’re raising this issue now so Finley doesn’t turn into a ghost town down the track.’’
This is the second time in three months council has been lobbied specifically about supporting local businesses.
It follows a small protest in December where Tocumwal earthmoving contractor Stephen Haynes highlighted council’s use of contractors from outside the shire.
Mr Carr said while chamber understands not all work and services can be contracted locally, it does call on council to spend more of its budget locally.
‘‘It could be as simple as buying stationery from local businesses or suppliers, or using local trade contractors from across the shire,’’ Mr Carr said.
‘‘From my experience as a local business owner, I know when dealing with council you need to show you’re competitive and reliable.
‘‘I think local business owners are prepared to be working harder such as making tighter deadlines and ensuring you can always fit them in your schedule.
‘‘Chamber understands some contracts will be sourced outside of the shire because there are companies that have more resources.’’
Speaking to the SOUTHERN RIVERINA NEWS yesterday, Cr Hannan said he was not prepared to comment on the concerns raised in detail until more discussions were held.
‘‘At this stage it would be very early to comment, but I’m happy to have that conversation with businesses to see what can be done,’’ Cr Hannan said.
‘‘This is the first I’m hearing about it (the potential business closures), but if a business is struggling then I would encourage the owners to approach their local chamber where they have access to certain government services.’’
Cr Hannan said in the meantime, it was important for members of the community to continue to back local businesses.
‘‘From my point of view, I would always encourage our residents to shop local,’’ he said.