Sometimes we just need a band aid
Often when there's a problem, the preferred fix will be what is commonly referred to as a band aid solution. In some cases this is helpful, in other cases it just prolongs the inevitable, a greater problem.
That said, Orange currently has a huge problem, one that I know for absolute certain needs a band aid solution right now, but my fear is that the powers that be, may not be seeing the urgency of this problem.
I'm part of the Put Orange First group who are currently working to build relationships with other business groups in Orange to see if we can't all get together to deal with the growing issues that many businesses are facing and start progressing Orange faster than is currently happening. The business groups I'm referring to include the Orange Business Chamber, Orange 360, Business HQ and Orange City Council to name a few.
Among Put Orange First's main agenda items is to promote, support and encourage local retailers, while at the same time encouraging more locals to support our local businesses, particularly our retailers more. It's absolutely crucial that our small business retailers remain open and viable if we are to continue to expect them to provide jobs for us, our families and our kids into the future. If we don't take steps right now to address the current retail downturn in Orange, we will pay for it later.
Therein lies my problem.
The drought is now. The recession, real or imagined, is now. Retailers are facing competition from businesses in other places and online now. Locals need to be convinced why and encouraged to start buying from local retailers now.
Orange needs to start turning things around now, in fact RIGHT NOW!
In the process of building the relationships I mentioned, I'm delighted to say that Put Orange First has discovered that there are some very good initiatives happening behind the scenes and if successful, these will bring very positive financial benefits to our City and the on flow will also benefit many local businesses.
Given what I'm hearing, my problem is that the benefits of these latest initiatives may not be felt until possibly 1 - 2 or more years away and in my judgement will do little or nothing to address the problems that so many retailers are feeling or experiencing now.
The bottom line for me is that Governments at all levels historically take an eternity to achieve anything, it's almost impossible for them to address anything at the time it's most needed. They also get bogged down in stuff that many astute business-people would deal with in 5 minutes. Dare I say it, how long has it taken so far to put a simple loo in Robertson Park?
Despite any data our Council wants to throw up about how Orange is fairing against other cities, despite any grand futuristic plans they may have, despite how strong our tourism and hospitality sector is doing, despite how many festivals and sporting events they have attracted to Orange, the fact remains that many of our retailers are bleeding but like with any problem, there are always solutions if you're prepared to look for them.
For now, let's applaud our Council for the foresight they are showing with our future but let's also urge them to be just as wise with the present and find a band aid that we can apply to help our retailers right now!