New level of confidence
An Ararat district business collective is primed to rekindle its position as a major voice in regional development and progress.
Ararat Regional Business Association is setting itself up for major revitalisation after a groundswell of support and will reset direction at an annual meeting next month.
ARBA spokesman and businessman Graeme Foster said an overwhelming response to a call-to-action business meeting in Ararat had fuelled a fresh level of confidence in the group’s role in the community.
He added Ararat Rural City Council, in declaring its position as a primary partner and supporter, had added important stimulus to the organisation and its position as a business mouthpiece.
“It’s about moving forward and being positive. What happened at the meeting reflected a collective desire between businesses and the council,” he said.
“The meeting was fantastic. It reached far and wide with 60 people representing a vast array of sectors and districts. A number of people have put up their hands to be involved in what shapes as a reinvigoration of the association.”
Ararat council has committed a fulltime economic development officer to ‘work with the association to help grow members, obtain resources and provide marketing, promotion, leadership and guidance’.
Mr Foster said the association needed to be relevant and to have a strong purpose as a business-representative organisation.
“To have support from the council in allocating a staff member to assist the association is significant. It’s a moment in time,” he said.
“From what I can remember we have never had this level of support. It’s an amazing opportunity for people to get on board and it is great to see so many people passionate about the region.”
Mr Foster stressed that ARBA was much more than a group representing retailers.
“It is really important to get it across that it embraces sectors such as manufacturing, farming, tourism and so on. It is vast and inclusive of the largest employer to the home-based entrepreneur. It’s about working collaboratively for positive outcomes,” he said.
“We want to generate a new level of relevance and energy – to band together, pool our resources and knowledge to work towards a common goal to make the region a great place to live, work and invest.”
Mr Foster said the association would announce a place and time for the August annual meeting shortly.
“We have 17 to 18 people who put up their hands and are willing to contribute time, energy and enthusiasm to come on board. We will contact those individuals to form a group and have official elections at the annual meeting,” he said.