“We want to be vibrant again!” - Queenscliffe's new Chamber of Commerce has warned business will no longer be kept in the dark on key decisons
The Borough’s new Chamber of Commerce has pledged to make all three levels of government accountable for the municipality’s future economic growth - to grow jobs, attract investment and lure more families back into the community.
The group held its first formal meeting in recent days (September23) to elect office bearers and determine its primary focus.
President Tony Francis said local business operators for too long had not had a strong voice on key issues. As a consequence hundreds of jobs had been lost from the fort, fishing industry and in marine sciences.
“We have all allowed that to happen but we’re not going to do that any more. There are things we can influence now and there are things we can influence down the track… we need to as a community group say what our priorities are and make sure they are front and centre at all levels of government,” he said.
“We as a chamber are going to turn things around. We want people coming here, living here and working here, we want to be the number one spot on the Bellarine and the whole of Victoria.
“What I mean by that is next time the Army decide to do something with that fort then we as a business group are going to tell them, hang on a minute, if you want to keep it as a fort then turn it into a fort and get the families back here, get the workforce back.
Don’t take them away and lock up a massive asset like that. You either put the people back or you let it go.”
The Chamber has been formed following the demise of the Queenscliff Lonsdale Business and Tourism Group (QLBTA) and in the wake of a shake-up in the local tourism industry.
It will be independent from the Queenscliffe Council, but hopes to forge a strong working relationship.
The initial meeting attracted representatives from wide range of backgrounds including retail, real estate, building, fishing and the sports community.
Mr Francis said tourism, although important, should no longer be the sole focus of local economic growth.
“There’s 1400 ABN numbers registered in the borough and they all perform a wide and varied role. We want them all in. This isn’t just about hospitality and accommodation, this is about everyone. Our challenge will be to get all of those groups involved.
“If the community, whether it’s business, not-for-profits or the general community have a wish, we want to be able go into bat for them.
“We want governments to stand up and take notice, local, state and federal,” he said. “And we will not take motherhoods statements from politicians, head- nodding…we will be holding them to account to respond and deliver for us.”
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