A NEW concept set to transform Cooma's CBD has been presented to Cooma-Monaro Shire Council in a move to reinvigorate the retail sector and encourage more tourists to shop in town.
Suzanne Dunning put before council a plan to fill the empty shops in Cooma, where temporary leases would be offered to local entrepreneurs to improve the town's vibrancy.
Ms Dunning in conjunction with the Cooma Chamber of Commerce have developed a model based on the Renew Australia approach, an initiative to allow local artists, community groups and creative projects to flourish in a non-competitive business setting.
"At present there are 20 or more empty shops and we are presenting short-term commercial leasing solutions to promote tourism," Ms Dunning said.
"A priority will be given to locally made goods and local artisans. We'll be careful to ensure these temporary shops won't compete with the other businesses."
Ms Dunning is a member of the recently formed Renew Cooma committee, an affiliate of the Cooma Chamber of Commerce. The committee envisage a CBD where the empty shops are transformed into social and cultural hubs, offering residents and tourists a new retail option.
The plan presented at council's meeting on Monday, August 11, is based on a similar idea which revitalised Newcastle's CBD.
Renew Australia is a non-profit organisation which allows local entrepreneurs to run their temporary businesses at a minimal cost.
Ms Dunning said landlords will not be adversely affected under the plan, with their shops still advertised for lease or sale, but ultimately the final decision to fill an empty shop rests with the landlord.
"The tenants will pay for water and electricity, the landlords get nothing from it except to have their shop filled," Ms Dunning said.
"The landlords will have the final say if their shops are to be used but there are lots of suitable shop fronts."
The idea of temporary shop leases was first raised at the Cooma Chamber of Commerce dinner a fortnight ago. Chamber president Kathy Kelly says the idea presents an exciting vision for Cooma and will enhance council's efforts to improve the economic viability of the town.
"It will bring in alternate shops on a short-term basis and create benefits for tourism. More visitors will stop in town as there will be more for people to do," Ms Kelly said.
"It's a chance to embrace temporariness."
In her presentation Ms Dunning asked council if they would be able to assist with a $2500 financial contribution to help implement the Renew Australia model.
Council responded positively to the proposal and will consider its merits at a future meeting.
"How soon can we start?" asked Councillor Rogan Corbett.
Ms Dunning encouraged council to embrace the Cooma model of Renew Australia where she said there was already interest from locals in opening a shop.
"There are five shops targeted ready to go, we need to get these shops up and running to capitalise on the upcoming events."