LETTER: Empty shops: avoid the doldrums

EDITOR: It's important that the current media focus and conversations around the community regarding empty shops and businesses struggling is done so with the facts before we all talk ourselves into the doldrums.

Firstly the Cooma Chamber of Commerce had two representatives on the Mayoral Economic taskforce for 6 months last year. It was time for the council, business community and various business groups to align efforts on the back of facts and the mayoral taskforce lead by Dean Lynch did just that.

While it can appear little has happened by the chamber or taskforce for that matter since the report was tabled in late November 2013, the fact is that Cooma-Monaro Shire Council need to carefully consider the report and make a decision on how the recommendations are going to be resourced and delivered. As a community we have to stop using a scattergun approach or jumping to the next "good idea" and instead target resources of both the council and business community on initiatives that add real long term value to the local economy and thereby community.

The Cooma Chamber of Commerce is awaiting the decision of council so that all future efforts are aligned to deliver on the outcomes of the Economic Development Plan. We are confident that Cooma Monaro Shire Council will see and fully appreciate that the time is now to act and that the work done by the taskforce with the support of Economics Professor Kim Houghton show very clearly that doing nothing is not an option. We also support the recommendation that a high level, professional full time Economic Development Director reporting to the General Manager be appointed.

Some of the research by Prof Kim Houghton also showed that businesses starting and closing in Cooma is a natural cycle, the enthusiasm and willingness of new enterprise should never be discouraged but it's a sad fact that not all business decisions are the right ones and the market will quickly decide who makes a dollar and who does not.

Cooma has many strengths and opportunities and the natural cycle of businesses closing will be met just as quickly with new businesses opening up. This will become an even faster process as landlords drop rent to meet market conditions and opportunities. In the meantime, the Cooma Chamber of Commerce is fully committed to working with Council and the community in a coordinated and targeted way to build an even stronger Cooma.

David Shelley

President

Cooma Chamber of Commerce and Industry

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