NEW DEAL: Business leaders join forces for COVID-19 recovery
After years of commercial interests competing for Noosa’s economic spoils, local business leaders are uniting to help spark their own COVID-19 business recovery.
According to newly-elected Noosa Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Rob Neely there is a new willingness for everyone to work together after the March pandemic hit and “everything went pear-shaped”.
“Putting the new team together, we’ve got other (business) precinct heads back in the chamber committee now,” Mr Neely said.
“The Hastings Street Association president (Emma Hull) is on the committee now, the Noosaville Business Association president (Joel Laventure) is on the committee and on it goes,” he said.
The new group also includes former chamber president Jane Kake as well as Noosaville businessman Ralph Rogers as vice-presidents.
Mr Neely said the business groups are all onside about now pulling in the same direction.
This unified approach includes the chamber working in closely with the new Noosa Council under mayor Clare Stewart on a long-term economic development plan.
“We’ve got four economic pillars, that is obviously retail, accommodation, aged care and construction,” Mr Neely said.
“We all realised, gee whiz you take out tourism accommodation and how it affects retail and Noosa could end up on its knees.
“The chamber needs to change the way it does business, it’s not really helpful having one precinct president saying this and another saying the other.”
That’s when the incoming team decided to opt for some portfolios within the chamber structure and then others came to him and said shouldn’t the arts be included.
That’s how Noosa Alive! festival leader Andrew Squires came on-board to help the chamber enhance the cultural arts be an even bigger economic driver.
They’ve looked to diversify further to include a youth component.
“Everyone jumped on-board because they could ultimately see the vision would fulfil a whole lot of objectives,” Mr Neely said.
“We have said to the council, ‘we don’t want to get caught with our pants down again, we’ll get through this (COVID-19), but we shouldn’t be looking at five-year economic development plans, we should be looking 20 years out’.
“Out of that the council and the chamber started working very closely together.”
Mr Neely said Noosa MP Sandy Bolton, who attended Tuesday’s chamber AGM alongside Cr Stewart and council CEO Brett de Chastel, is also keen to nurture this fresh approach to doing business in Noosa.
Mr Neely said one of the members who attended said he saw this as a chance to ensure there were enough new business opportunities in town so his teenage children would not have to move to Sydney or Melbourne to find work.
“The economy won’t revive without business, the government can only take it so far,” he said.
“To do that we have to have everyone on-board around the same boardroom table.”
Mr Rogers shared some advice for the political leaders in the room.
“Please do not walk ahead of us and leave us behind, or walk behind us, walk beside us so we can move forward together,” Mr Rogers said.
More than 60 members attended the meeting.
The Noosa Chamber of Commerce and Industry Committee is:
- President – Rob Neely
- Vice President – Ralph Rogers
- Vice President – Janet Kake
- Secretary – Glen Nicols
- Treasurer- Karen Cook Langdon
- Committee Members are:
- Andrew Squires – Arts
- Jon Thompson – Accommodation
- Joel Laventure – Governance and Advisory
- Emma Hull – Resorts
- Vanessa Webster – Memberships
- 2020 Committee Guests are:
- Andy Ross- Retail
- Emma Tomlinson – Youth