Groundswell of Localist Passion
Put Orange First held a small business ideas forum in town recently, with The Park View Hotel kindly making a room available. It was fantastic to see around 45 like-minded local people gather to address some of the issues facing the Orange small business community and there was a clear call made to get stakeholders on the same page and unite for a common cause…. a strong Orange for all – thriving business, thriving community, thriving city!
Local independent financial planner, Daniel McGregor, and manager of Jack Evans Camping and Workwear, Jack Evans, ran the forum. They initially presented some of the thoughts and ideas that Put Orange First has been working on in 2019 and then the floor was opened to the audience to have a say.
There was plenty of passion in the room! Everyone loves living in Orange, it’s a great city… but it’s fair to say that many feel Orange could be doing better and plenty of ideas were put forward. Given the feelings and ideas that were expressed, it was fantastic to have the mayor, Reg Kidd, Councillor Tony Mileto, and the president and vice-president of the Business Chamber, Ash Brown and Shawn Dwyer, in attendance.
As part of the forum, attendees were asked to complete a form which gave them the opportunity to raise issues, but also to propose potential solutions. Below is a summary of the key takeaways form the forum:
POTENTIAL SOLUTIONS SUGGESTED
Main street appearance
Many people raised this as an issue. Summer Street and side streets considered to be not aesthetically pleasing, not drawing foot traffic
Themed display windows/events/markets to drive foot traffic in the CBD
One or two Eat Street precinct
Create an Orange retail 'theme'
Unified effort to strengthen retail and more awareness of what the local market wants and will spend money on locally (so that business who open have the best chance of staying open)
Look at other main streets for inspiration
Clearly an issue in the minds of many
Some form of dialogue between Council, the Business Chamber and property owners to lobby landlords for more reasonable and sustainable rents
A number of people raised poor customer service as an issue when it comes to doing business with local businesses
Some kind of 1-day training program
A buddy business program
Dedicated Orange business website directory
Another issue raised by a number of people
People suggested both a website and an app (and more social media)
A suggestion was made that a way for local businesses to have a chance to price match non-local/online be developed
There was also widespread support for getting some flags up in Summer Street as a simple means of livening up the CBD. It also sounds as though everyone is also hanging out the former Myer building reopening!
A couple of interesting ideas worth mentioning were an Orange Artisan Hub and Orange Street Art Festival.
The other key theme that came out of the forum was agreement that Orange can benefit from a form of ‘localist’ campaign where locals support locals, locals can be tourists in their own city and region and we promote everything great about Orange to not just the outside world, but to those who live here as well.
Keep an eye out for more updates in the near future,
Daniel McGregor and Jack Evans (and the Put Orange First team)