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Tuesday 1 March 2022

Welcome to March. The year is already flying past and we at The Chamber have been very busy.

Congratulations to Sue & Paul Jogever from Belle Property on winning this year’s business section of Light up the Hastings. They did a magnificent job on transforming their office into a beautiful Ginger Bread House and even went the extra mile and provided The Piped Band with Christmas carols for the community.  Also to Lance & Georgia Dunn who won the community section of Light up the Hastings with the fantastic light show that I am sure you all saw at Timber Ridge.  Thank you all who participated to bringing joy to the local community.

10th February saw our first network event for the year where we had Breakfast with the Animals at Billabong Zoo. The event was very well attended and we thank Mark Stone for his insight into how they worked through the challenges of COVID and lockdowns and the importance of businesses in the Community supporting each other. This can be as easy as thinking of local venues when giving a gift to Staff or friends. We all benefit when we keep our money in the community which creates more jobs for our kids. Billabong Zoo also now has their licensed function room open and available. A fantastic location for corporate events, weddings and birthdays.

22nd March is our next event & will be the Luminosity Launch. So looking forward to this event coming back in 2022 supporting our leaders of the future. If you haven’t heard of Luminosity and the Sponsorship opportunities available to businesses, I strongly urge you to get involved. This will be an evening event at Rydges starting at 6pm and always books out fast so keep an eye open for the invites or contact Katherine or Mark at the Chamber office.

Speaking of students, it’s great to see students back at our university campuses at CSU, UNSW Rural Clinical School and Newcastle Uni. We hope that having students return will also help hospitality businesses with staff shortages as we all return to normal.

30th March we are excited at the Chamber to join forces with the Greater Port Macquarie Tourism Association to bring Jon Dee founder of Planet Ark to the Hastings at the Mercure to celebrate Small Business Month with a Boardroom lunch and talk about Sustainability in Business. Tickets are $80 and includes a two course lunch and drink on arrival. Tickets are now available – see our website for details.

Exciting news that we are to welcome Bonza Airways to Port Macquarie with flights from Port to Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast & Melbourne announced. Not only great for locals but also a boost to our Tourism sector.

We were sad to again have to postpone the Coastline Credit Union Greater Port Macquarie Business Awards on the 19th February but we are now really excited that restriction have been lifted so that we can celebrate in style and also have a dance as we congratulate our finalists on the 13th May. All tickets purchased will be carried forward to this date and I know our MC’s for the evening Andy Saunders and Vanessa Lawrence can’t wait to welcome you.

Port Macquarie-Hastings Council has moved a motion to discontinue nine Council committees. The Chamber lobbied the Council on the behalf of businesses to try to prevent this occurring. We believe that community consultation and participation are an integral part of enduring that the best services are delivered for our community. The Mayor has promised that there is a Blueprint moving forward however we would have hoped that this Blueprint would have been made available prior to any decisions being made. The Chamber has been a supporter and advocate of the triple bottom line tiered structure of the community consultative groups, led through the Economic Development Steering Group, the Cultural Steering Group, and the recently formed Sustainability Group.  The Business Port Macquarie is actively represented on the Economic Development Steering Group, the Town Centre Master Plan Committee, and the Cultural Steering Group.  These groups are all essential conduits for the Chamber to effectively represent the strategic interests of our membership.

With specific reference to the Town Centre Master Plan (TCMP), the TCMP has achieved significant tangible results over the years and the delivery of improvements to the Port Macquarie CBD streetscape under this model has been a stellar success.  It is also important to note that the TCMP Committee is currently managing project work and needs to continue this project administration until the works are finalised.

Whilst we acknowledge the need to continually review the effectiveness and operation of these consultative groups, it is extremely concerning to us to discontinue these groups BEFORE any consultative review process has been undertaken.  Coupled with the plan to rescind the Councillor Portfolio system, of further concern is the proposal, before any consultative review, to limit Councillor responsibility for chairing future committees to either the Mayor, Deputy Mayor, or Cr Griffiths.  We feel the discontinuation of these committees is a huge loss especially for The Town Centre Master Plan committee as they are in the middle of the project on Town Green and have been delivering a fantastic space for all to enjoy and really lift our area to the next level. There have been many volunteer hours and skills gone into these projects through the working parties and I believe that the members should be congratulated for all they have achieved not have the groups dissolved mid project. Some of other groups that have been affected include the Aquatic Centre Committee that have again been making great in roads, the Cultural Steering Group and also the Economic Development Group.  Our community deserves the expertise that these committee members bring to the table. Chamber as well as residents found this represents a threat to democracy and they are concerned the motion was put forward without consultation.  A number of failed amendments put forward by Councillors Nik Lipovac, Lisa Intemann and Rachel Sheppard in an attempt to allow some committees to continue, pending a review, Council moved the original motion to discontinue the nine committees.

We will keep you updated on developments as they come to hand. As Dolly Parton says “If you want the rainbow, you have to put up with the rain”.
Have a great month.

P.S We have also started a Facebook group called Chamber Chats for businesses to come together share experiences and help each other out. Join us and share your business wisdom with others.

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