Chamber Chatter - President’s Report 2021

19th Oct 2021

This year certainly had its challenges with Covid on the back of Drought and Fires that have all heavily impacted everyone but especially our business community.
Highlights from this year:
Membership continued to grow well above our target, I thank Hans for diligently working towards that goal, distributing information updates to members that we received via emails and for conducting the review of our constitution along with Alan St Clair
Analytics from Waterfall Way Designs confirm that there has been growing interest in our web page. I thank David Carse for his prompt attention to all our requests and his ongoing work with promoting our member businesses on FaceBook. Every week a different business is featured and interest in these posts have been steadily growing. It would be good if more members would jump on these posts and actively share them as it is a great way to show what’s is happening within our business community in Guyra, help build the critical mass needed to make these a real vehicle of advertising and promotion without cost.
We completed a review of our strategic plan thru the facilitation of Diane Gray under the Business Entrepreneurs’ program. While we had a lot of things we would like to do it is important that we narrowed our focus down to a few priorities to ensure we focused on these to get traction moving forward. I thank those who were actively involved in the workshops.
The High Street grant that was workshopped with council back in January was not successful however we have just done a rework of this proposal to beef it up and align it to the criteria of a current Bushfire Recovery grant application that closed 6th October. I would like to thank the executive for their work on this as well as Scot MacDonald, Diane Gray and David Kanaley who took on the work load in getting this one up again with hopefully a stronger chance of being funded.
The Murals is another great results for Guyra. How good do these look. I thank David Kanaley for a well written and very comprehensive EOI and the ground works of Donna Davidson, Bec Smith, James and the rest of the crew who helped drive this to reality. Chamber of Commerce has finally been reimbursed and I thank every-one for allowing us to get behind this project and temporarily use Chamber Funds to assist the artists with the cost of developing the murals and waiting for re-imbursement back from Council.
The trees in the main street was another example where we needed to host some community consultation and take a petition to council to make the wishes of the community known. I thank James for taking carriage of this and while council did back down on removing the Red Maples for the time being there are still some outcomes that we are required to deliver on if the trees are to stay permanently.
Timber power poles in the main street in place of the current non compliant steal ones and the no longer funded option of underground power as planned in the main street upgrade. We are still waiting on new design drawing from Essential Energy. It was pleasing that we were able to gain Essential Energies commitment to the cost of this sparing Council and rate payers ultimately being the bearer of this cost.
I have attended all the Rangoon Windfarm Community Consultation Committee meetings mostly in support of our folks at Ben Lomond who stand to be impacted heavily by this project. Currently the entire project is being reviewed to try and come up with a more acceptable plan which I think will still struggle to gain any community support and I would not be surprised if fails to go ahead.
I have also attended the ARC Economic Development Committee meetings, some were still in person some were online. I am also one of three members who convened the Tourism Sub Committee to try and drive support from council to promote a triangle tourism trail Ebor, Guyra and Armidale with other attractions branching off this triangle also being promoted with a goal of keeping visitors in the region longer. We have also been pushing for a single all encompassing events calendar for the region to again keep visitor in the region longer and attending more than the one event that originally bought them to the region.
It is great to see every shop in town now has a business in it or there are building works to be carried out to bring them into service, I think this is probably the first time since the meatworks closed all those years ago that all shops are occupied. I certainly can’t remember a time since I moved here over 30 years ago that there hasn’t been around a 3rd of the shops empty. Some of the business have done some work to the streetscape and this will add to the positivity that is in the main street and this has all been taking place during three of the toughest years Guyra has faced in terms of natural disasters.
I would like to thank every-one who has contributed to this positivity and paved the way for good things to happen. Such things as the Peoney Festival, Trout Festival, the new building going up at the lamb & Potato Festival Site and the new Spring Garden Festival are all fostering a ‘we can do this vibe’ for our community.
I thank you all for your support and in particular Secretary Aileen who kept thing moving and Dorothy who kept our finances in order and Costa Group for their generous sponsorship of our Web site.
In my view despite the challenges we had a good year with some good foundations laid to continue to grow and assist our members.
Steve Mepham
President 2020 - 2021