Un­der pres­sure

Cham­ber calls on coun­cil, com­mu­nity for sup­port

Southern Riverina news - - FRONT PAGE - By James Ben­nett

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.

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