2018 President’s Report

2018 President’s Report

This is my 3rd President’s report and typically, I provide a summation of the events and decisions that the Chamber of Commerce has either been directly involved in or at least been able to influence policymakers or decision makers over the previous 12 months.

These last 12 months however have seen the number of projects and impacting economic opportunities increase to a new level altogether. This is a yardstick of how our economy is heating up. It’s also a sign of the importance of our region both as a vehicle for economic growth and its importance on the federal (political) landscape. Happily, many of the more highly contentious issues debated over a number of years, have actually had outcomes in the last 12 months.

In short, the following list covers a range of both proposed and completed projects that have or will have significant impacts on our business community:

  • The Adani Megamine;
  • Rookwood Weir;
  • Great Keppel Island Expiration of Lease
  • The Bruce Highway Bypass of Rockhampton
  • Browne Park Expansion;
  • Beef Australia 2018;
  • The Yeppoon Lagoon and the issue of Metered Parking
  • The opening of Rockhampton’s Riverfront Development
  • Rockhampton’s bid for Supercars including the track construction on north bank of the Fitzroy

Of course there’s a range of other events and issues that affect business confidence day to day, that we, the CCC, are represented on, mostly with Rockhampton Regional Council via my participationoin the Economic Advisory Committee.

Of course each year, we see a number of new businesses that have either announced or actually commenced their businesses here in our region. This includes national and international brands such as:

  • Aldi
  • H&M
  • Peter Alexander
  • TK Maxx

Sadly, we’ve also seen the demise of a number of iconic businesses:

  • Edge Restaurant
  • The Ranch
  • Brunches

The lists for both of these categories is quite extensive.

Irrespective of the strength of the market or the overall business confidence out there at the moment, our local businesses continue to face enormous pressures to remain “relevant” to their local market whilst battling increasing online threats to their core customer base. This can come in the form of Amazon’s entry to the Australian market, but also by domestic businesses that have established an online presence and the capacity to sell and distribute across the country.

One of the CCC’s primary roles is to facilitate local networking because there is still a strong desire amongst consumers to have personal connections and do business within our community. In addition we seek to facilitate information sessions to inform businesses about eCommerce and the benefits of being able to market more broadly particularly to the Gen Y and Millennials, who increasingly use this medium to research their proposed purchases. (In case you haven’t noticed, not many Gen X and Millenials come to networking meetings).

In the interests of time and to protect some commercial confidentialities, I will not recite everything that the CCC has discussed, represented business on and in general, been involved in. Instead, in short there have been a number of these issues that impact our region, that we have had direct involvement in via representation on different groups. The CCC is proud to be in the mix to provide input and feedback.

At the forefront of anything we do is the overriding mandate that our decisions will always have business interests at the forefront.

Of course, three levels of government: Local, State and Federal are constantly seeking business input and to make informed decisions on how ratepayer and taxpayer funds are going to be used in ways that improve our standard of living; that provide confidence to the business community as a whole; and of course, harness the “popular” vote. When you look at the various representative bodies in our immediate region, we can hold our head high that we listen to business sentiment and lobby hard with all three levels of government.    

Of course, we the committee are individuals with personal views and interests outside of our official platform but again we put aside these personal views to debate issues and strategy at committee meetings providing representation that will advance our region.

It’s often said in business that if you want to get something done, give it to a busy person. In case you’re unaware, we are a volunteer committee with all of our members actively involved in a range of activities from running their own businesses: Phil, Jason and Sara; to full time employees: myself, Michelle, Angela and Geoff. In addition to work and the CCC, committee members pursue other volunteer roles and interests, such as Phil as Chair of the CQ Uni Village Festival, Ange as President of the Rockhampton Women’s Network….the list goes on.

Rightly or wrongly, the name “Chamber of Commerce” still resonates strongly across different levels of government and when business comes to town or needs assistance they come to us. We have the opportunity to meet and influence State and Federal Leaders with our opinion and voice. In addition, we seek to raise the profile of certain projects or topics with a few well-placed emails or an expressed opinion in an interview.

It’s easy to be a member of an organisation or part of a team when everything is going well. When things are tough though, it’s a bloody hard gig and you question what you’re doing. It’s now been 5 and a half years when 180 local business people first met at the Cancer Council building to initiate the re-incarnated CCC committee. I was asked to join as Treasurer based on my experience in similar committees in Victoria. I’m now the only remaining member of that first committee. The entity has had some ups and downs over this period, but we now have both a stable committee and a stable member base.

I’m enormously thankful of the six other committee members we’ve had for the year. These are motivated, dedicated people all wanting to see the best outcomes for our region. As individuals they are a cracking bunch of people that all catch up socially, so I feel very lucky to be part of this group. I actually enjoy our committee meetings and it’s great to have a number of people with differing strong opinions, especially given some of the more emotive and controversial topics that we engage on. Everyone has decided to stay on for the 2018-2019 year other than Sara McCartney.

On this note, I’d like to wish our resigning committee member Sara McCartney (now English) all the best for her recent marriage in Queenstown NZ last week. She’ll be a big loss but we wish her all the best for the life she’ll make in New Zealand in 2019.

Peter Fraser

President

10 September 2018

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