Over the weekend, there was a lot of discussion about a piece we authored for the Illawarra Mercury about how the Wollongong City Centre could better serve the community and the businesses within in.

Wollongong CBD serves as an employment hub for the entire region that accounts for 60% of economic activity in the Illawarra and provides jobs for 43% of employees from Shellharbour and 23% from Kiama.

We have more people than ever choosing to live in the Wollongong CBD which is creating increasing vibrancy.

However we also have a commercial zone that is too dispersed, hard to navigate and sometimes uninviting for visitors. The Crown Street retail strip itself is too long to provide an inviting and easily navigated retail, shopping and dining experience.

Life for businesses isn’t easy, in part due to difficult retail conditions at the current time. During July, IBC staff walked the streets of the Wollongong CBD to promote the City Centre Excellence category at our annual business awards, which is free for all to enter.

Speaking to some hundred-odd business owners we heard an array of views, but a few key themes emerged. Many are concerned at the ‘dead spots’ in the city centre, and the high rents incurred by businesses operating on quiet strips that were often peppered by ‘for lease’ signs.

We’re providing some strong recommendations to council and the state government on a range of solutions, but would welcome your feedback too.

Please get in touch at ed@illawarrabusiness.com.au and watch this space for updates. To learn about our proposals, please read the opinion piece here.