EDITORIAL: Confidence - the way ahead

Cooma is no different to many regional towns at the moment - suffering from an economic downturn that is difficult to rationalise, and harder still to understand. Yet it is true that many towns and big cities are facing struggles and this may be reflected in a sad-looking retail sector.

But the clear message from Chamber of Commerce President David Shelley on this page is a clear one - It's important, he says, that we don't talk ourselves into the doldrums. In this context, it is true that people tend to drift into the glass half empty category so that an empty shop in the main street is a sure sign that things are going downhill at a rapid rate. Suddenly, rumours abound, and while people might not be wailing in the streets, a pall of gloom and doom descends on the town.

However, talking the place down, which some people do, without providing any solutions, is not the way to go. So the news that the Chamber is taking some action to bring people together and put forward a plan of action, and is willing to open its purse strings to do so, is welcome.

It will be recalled, too, that the council still has before it the recommendations of its Economic Development Taskforce, which we have reported on previously. The recommendations are designed to pursue economic growth in the months and years ahead to help secure Cooma's future in terms of population and jobs growth. The council has endorsed the plan in principle, but the hard part is to actually implement it - finding the money to hire suitably qualified people and giving them the resources and authority to get the job done.

The region's civic leaders - in this case, the council and the chamber - are taking action. But, ultimately, the solution to the empty shops rests with the community. Shop elsewhere, whether physically or online, and the money leaves town, and the shops stay empty.

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