The Illawarra Business Chamber has today joined the Southern Highlands Chamber of Commerce and Industry in raising concern about business conditions in the Southern Highlands and has called a meeting of local businesspeople to discuss a way forward.
This follows the cancellation of the Southern Highlands Food and Wine Festival, which has proven the final straw for many local businesses who are fed up and demanding action.
The Festival is an annual event held in October to showcase the best of Southern Highlands food and wine, and last year attracted 8,800 visitors and directly involved 40 local food and wine operators with significant flow-on benefits for a range of other businesses in the region.
Illawarra Business Chamber Executive Director Adam Zarth said that the festival’s cancellation reflected a concerning trend that was hurting business in the Southern Highlands and that it was time to act.
“No community can function without business, yet there seems to be a disconnect between decision-makers in the Highlands and the needs of their local economy. We intend to get to the bottom of what is going on and decide a course of action.”
“The cancellation of the food and wine festival is the kind of avoidable blunder that will hurt the Southern Highlands economy and hamper job creation and opportunities,” said Mr Zarth.
“In response to this, the Illawarra Business Chamber will host an urgent meeting of concerned small business owners from across the region before hours on Thursday morning,” said Mr Zarth.
“We’ll compile the evidence with a view to representing business interests at a local government and community level,” he said.
“I’ll also be raising this with the NSW Small Business Commissioner at our small business forum tomorrow morning, so we can ascertain what the view is from state government.”
Southern Highlands Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chairman Steve Horton said that many small businesses in the region were complaining to him about a frustrating level of uncertainty and poor decision-making.
“With youth unemployment trending upwards in the Highlands, we cannot afford to put jobs and investment at risk,” said Mr Horton.
Meeting details: Gibraltar Hotel Bowral (Lake View Room)
7 Boronia St
From 7 AM, Thursday, 19 July
Coffee and tea will be served
Contact: James Newton 0417 135 858