Small and independent retailers in Crookwell have overwhelmingly spoken honestly to me over the past week about the outlook for their business, and their general views about the main shopping precinct.
Many of us live on a tight disposable income, and all fork out for rent or a mortgage, and dip into our savings at Christmas parties and for presents. However, it is important to reiterate the importance of these businesses to the town and show them our support.
Even if it is just for a browse and a chat.
I’ve seen first-hand the hours of work and sacrifice of time spent away from family that small business owners endure, along with added pressure of having it all on the line.
Most business owners shied away from being very outspoken about a ‘shop local’ drive, but without a local Chamber of Commerce to support it, how can our business community thrive?
Local businesses can offer much better service than big businesses; or, at least, local franchisees of multi-nationals.
However, the decision to buy is still principally determined by perceptions of price factors. This way, towns and villages lose local clientele who travel to Goulburn or Canberra for goods and services they could actually receive closer to home. A majority of local business owners said this assumption – that these areas were cheaper – was incorrect.
The council’s Economic Development Revitalisation and Action Plan would focus on three key areas drivers in the Shire: aged care, tourism and agricultural production. Perhaps it should read: aged care, local business and agricultural production?
Now, I agree that tourism is one of the main drivers for bringing in outside economic interests, and attracting potential future home owners; but without support from local government and consumers alike, then the interest of attracting tourists is null and void.
So my question to the council is thus: if the Economic Development Revitalisation and Action Plan stated that there would be an increase along the corridor between Sydney and Canberra of 20,000 homes by 2036, what are we doing to attract this development to Crookwell?
And do we have zoning capabilities to increase the local population, which regional business owners see as an opportunity for expansion?
And is it about time there was seed funding for a local Chamber of Commerce?