It’s decision time for Orange businesses
A recent NAB business survey declared that the retail sector in Australia is “clearly in recession”. If that’s true, it should ring alarm bells for business owners right across Australia, and that includes here in Orange. It’s times like these that the saying “when the going gets tough, the tough get going” becomes most relevant. The cities that do that best will have the best chance of weathering the recession. Those who don’t take action or just sit on their hands hoping it will pass, will be letting their communities down very badly.
There are moves afoot in Orange that suggest the tough are going to get going and a group called Put Orange First is part of that movement. This group believes it’s decision time for Orange business owners, particularly retailers, and they’re working towards bringing our business community together and all pushing in the same direction. There are a lot of great things happening and over coming months, if Put Orange First is successful, we’ll all see and hear more about these as well as numerous new initiatives that are currently being discussed by the various industry bodies.
For now, please read the following Press Release that has just been put out by Put Orange First. It is self-explanatory:
Put Orange First is a group of local businesspeople who are keen to contribute to the future progress of our great city. The organisation made a submission to Orange City Council’s 2019/20 budget and Daniel McGregor spoke at the Open Forum of the Council meeting on Tuesday evening 25th June.
Put Orange First held its initial public meeting on 6th June attended by more than 40 people, including Mayor Reg Kidd and Councillor Tony Mileto, Chair of the Economic Development Committee. The participants in the meeting raised a number of issues and possible solutions including collective local marketing, themed window displays, events and banners.
The submission to Council included a number of suggestions:
• Put Orange First would like to see a clearer link between tourism and existing businesses to recognise this drawcard and clear actions to retain and enhance the character of the CBD.
• We would like to see local late-night shopping events like Eat Streets in the different precincts. Retail and CBD food outlets should be one of the planks of a successful tourism strategy that benefits local businesses and attracts local communities to the CBD.
• The Put Orange First team would like a DEDICATED ORANGE BUSINESS WEBSITE DIRECTORY and APP
• The Put Orange First team is very supportive of initiatives to improve the MAIN STREET APPEARANCE but would like more business engagement. Given the fragmented nature of the CBD we would like to see Council appoint a CBD Place Manager to facilitate engagement and speed up planning processes. The Place Manager would also work with local property owners over LEASE COSTS and CUSTOMER SERVICE training.
• We would like to see closer working relationships between local business owners, the local community, and the organisations that represent them, with Council in meaningful engagements that achieve outcomes meaningful outcomes for all stakeholders.
Daniel McGregor addressed the Council meeting:
“My name is Daniel McGregor and I’m here representing a group called Put Orange First. Broadly speaking, we want to champion the value of local business in our community, encourage consumer spending in the local economy and raise the profile of people who work in local businesses and the families they support to encourage a strong Orange for all.
In response to the Council’s proposed budget we submitted a proposal with a number of ideas and suggestions.
The Council’s response was that no further action was required.
We find this alarming. The submission was put forward on the back of a small business ideas forum attended by almost 50 people earlier in the month. I’d like to thank those councillors who attended. At the forum, there was deep concerns about recession in the retail sector and how Council and all other organisations need to work together urgently to prevent the death of retail in the CBD.
Interestingly, the Council’s own media release last week painted a picture of strong growth in dining and entertainment, but retail growth slowing to only 0.3% in March.
While Council points to a strong tourism sector, which we fully support, it feels as though there is not enough, if any, of Council’s attention focused on the local dollar and the experience of locals in their own CBD.
We appreciate that Council has plans to rejuvenate the CBD, however without retailers to fill it, it will continue to be a place with many empty shopfronts and new businesses priced out of being able to start businesses in the CBD.
Given the CBD is the beating heart of any city, we would encourage Council to take on board some of the suggestions put forward in Put Orange First’s submission and we would welcome the opportunity to engage with Council in further discussion.
We would like to encourage Council to arrange a meeting with Put Orange First, Orange360, the Business Chamber and other key stakeholders to work together to more directly connect visitors, tourists and locals with our retail sector so our CBD can continue to thrive.
We were pleased that Councillor Joanne McRae addressed our submission during the debate and urged us to continue dialogue with Council and not to be dismayed by the Council’s response in the report.
We are encouraged by the likelihood of a future meeting between the many groups in the city who between them, represent the wide variety of local businesses and causes.
For more information about Put Orange First, please contact:
Jack Evans email@example.com or 0409 321 544
Daniel McGregor firstname.lastname@example.org or 0411 484 464