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Presidents Report for 2019 AGM

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As my Presidency of three years comes to an end, I present this overview.

The Executive Committee for the first two years focused on advocacy which was based on our evidence based strategic plans. Most activity centred around encouraging business development, tourism business development, event strategy and seeding events.

The Executive Committee believes the main achievements of the Chamber have been to refocus attention on Batemans Bay as a designated regional commercial centre and tourism hub. The recent investment and activity by each level of government has been welcomed.

Private investment and support for a fragile business sector is still wanting. The challenging economic statistics such as employment, lack of growth and demographic issues represent a challenge to each level of government, while defining Chambers advocacy.

The past three years has seen Council increase its marginalisation of the Chamber, which has been particularly difficult for the Executive Committee.

I would like to thank the Executive Committee of the last year, as they have made decisions in the best interest of the Shire and Chamber while under undue pressure. For the past year the Chamber has been fortunate to attract a strong and diverse Executive Committee with impeccable skills. The group comprises the largest private employer and largest accommodation provider in the Shire, a member with national board experience, a member with long term real estate experience and experience with other Chambers, a former Chamber president and large Shire wide employer, an architect with Council planning experience from another Shire and a retailer. It has been a pleasure to work with such a broad skill based executive – Thank You.

My resignation from Councils MacKay Park Sunset Committee and public criticism of capacity, expertise and process surrounding the Mackay Park development precipitated criticism by the Mayor and attracted the wrath of Council.
A letter to the Mayor to consider a Batemans Bay business group proposal of buying the old Bowling Club Site and developing an events centre, regional gallery and regional museum with greater capacity than the proposed Mackay Park events centre and at no operational cost to the ratepayer was met with a no thank you letter only.

My public comments on a lack of vision strategy, masterplan or place making strategies for the Mackay Park development, Batemans Bay CBD and Batemans Bay Foreshore when Council had promoted this after the last election 3 years prior, has also drawn Councils criticism, though a strategy has now been undertaken. Unfortunately, the Chamber has been excluded, making it again a cherry picked engagement not indicative of a genuine stakeholder engagement process.

Council developed an event strategy only to discard it and propose the current strategy, I continue to be critical of this wasteful approach, and strategies which hide behind consultants who are highly directed by inexperienced senior staff.
Council has not been supportive of the Sculpture for Clyde event which I created. Council requirements forced much of the event out of the Shire. A recent motion within Council about the running of this non-Council event saw no consultation with myself and organisers. This defeats any notion that Councils event strategy and practices are inclusive in nature or serve the better interest of the Shire.

Business and Tourism is not driving any strategy within Council since both the Business Advisory Committee and the Tourism Advisory Committee were abolished by the Mayor without proper replacement. Myself and the Chamber have been actively marginalised by the Tourism and Events unit now for over a year, as have other tourism operators in the Shire.

The oversight of the tourism and events unit and disconnect with industry was highlighted at a recent Tourism Update meeting.  The Mayor cited a massive increase in tourism visitation in 2018 and attributed this to Council staff.
The tourism industry did not experience these increases and there was no business correlation to the presented visitation data. Some believe the figures presented were misleading which is evidenced by the Mackellar report.

Robust figures from ID Profile can be viewed on Councils website which contradict Council tourism claims, as they show a reduction in investment, no growth, a reduction in spending and unemployment trending up to almost three times the state average. Council has had no new tourism promotional program for 3 years, yet self praises its achievement of increasing tourism numbers. Industry is embarrassed by this spin.

The restructure and repositioning of Councils Tourism, Events and Business units down the hierarchy into the planning department has further alienated what should be local industry driven activities. The conflict of interest between entrepreneurial activity and regulatory department activity only furthers the perceived disconnect. A planning department cannot and has not built business confidence, especially in tourism. A funded industry group would save ratepayers and drive real outcomes.

Issues with Council came to a head with the Mayor offering mediation with the Executive Committee in December 2018, which we promptly welcomed and agreed, only to receive a letter 6 months later suggesting we defer the mediation until after our AGM.

As President I take advocacy seriously and have learnt that within a small Shire where every business is in some way connected or dependant on Council, then advocacy has its limitations. Too often we see people and groups publicly lobby positions which have attracted Councils wrath rather than genuine dialogue and inclusion.

A majority of the Executive Committee and myself considered resignation in January of this year due to treatment by council. We decided to continue to the next AGM in the interest of the Chamber. At this time we needed legal and insurance advice when dealing with Council. My Presidency and position with the Sculpture for Clyde event has been made almost impossible by Council.

Should the future Chamber Executive decide to not have Council as a member for advocacy purposes, I would hope that members support this action. Councils single membership has seen both Councillors and Council staff turn up without notice to meetings and have too often interrupted guest speakers in order to lobby Councils position. Chamber should never be Councils proxy. Businesses’ have a legitimate fear of Council which needs to be overcome.

It is now time for a new president and executive who may wish to take the Chamber on a different path. I have no doubt that Council will support a new president and executive.

Batemans Bay Community Centre

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David Maclachlan: President of Batemans Bay Business and Tourism Chamber address to Council regarding the Batemans Bay Community Centre motion PE19/001 and the presented petition of approximately 1000 signatures concerning the future of the Batemans Bay Community Centre.

I had a company which ran multi-use centres for profit – I offered my Profit and Loss Statements to Council on a number of occasions to assist in their understanding of how profitable multi-use venues are run. 

I would like to address the business case referred to in this motion, I would also like to address the impact of selling the Batemans Bay Community Centre will have on the outcomes of the new Arts centre in McKay Park. 

At the last two Council held forums on the Regional Aquatics, Arts and Leisure Centre which was conducted for business I requested Councils list of potential users for the new arts centre and I asked if the users included Batemans Bay Community Centre users so that informed input could be made. On both occasions I received a positive response that the request would be considered, though I heard nothing further.

At the last business forum I also asked if a business case could be furnished to enable informed input. The Council officer running the forums said that he would consider this and see if he could provide the business case in confidence to the Batemans Bay Business and Tourism Chamber. The architects in the forum then interjected and said there was no business case, though there was a list of potential users. 

So,  the architects had just told us that they had been designing a significant centre without a business case. Those present were gobsmacked by this revelation.

Much of the General Managers response to this motion focuses on offsetting the new Arts Centre costs with Batemans Bay Community Centre costs. This rationale signifies the change of use of the new Arts centre to more of an inevitable replacement for the Batemans Bay Community Centre.  

I do not believe the people of the Shire will reconcile the new Arts centre becoming a glorified community centre. The community expects Council to provide what they set out to provide, and that is an iconic arts facility which would provide significant entertainment and not be a white elephant.

The Batemans Bay Business and Tourism Chamber has always said the new Arts centre at McKay park needs sufficient seating capacity and open space capacity to be multi-use, relevant and limit being a burden to the ratepayer.

Unfortunately, when a design is born out of benchmarking loss making Local Government run centres then the notion of reducing capacity to mitigate loss becomes OK, when in fact the opposite is true.

Almost 2 years ago I made public comments that 500 seats was small and would not attract national acts and would have difficulty attracting popular acts. I said the venue could not expect to see shows such as the Wiggles. My comments were publicly negated by the Mayor who made reference to my Wiggles comment in a Bay Post article.  The new Arts centre design has now been reduced to a size that will definitely not hold the Wiggles or national acts, nor trade shows, nor large format events such as multiple Choirs and exhibitions.

The new arts centre is now too small to be leased or privately managed due to lack of financially viable seating capacity or open space, thus increasing rate payer burden. 

If Council decides to sell the Batemans Bay Community Centre, then Council needs to reset peoples expectations about the new Arts centre and its purpose as it will no longer be a destination venue.

Council also needs to reset Batemans Bay Community Centre users expectations if Otiums business case including suggested rates is adopted – It was mentioned in the General Managers response to this motion that Council had adopted Otiums business case.

While Council has stated they have not made a decision on selling Batemans Bay Community Centre, I would hope this motion is passed by Councillors to simply acknowledge community sentiment about the Batemans Bay Community Centre and more importantly the community concerns about McKay Park outcomes and process.

Remember: Ulladulla has 450 seats and 1500 seats , Nowra has 900 seats, the Soldiers club has about 450 seats,  why are we doing 350 seats with no multi use space?

Thank You

Chamber Activity Update to April 2019.

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  1. Chamber members attended Mackay Park forums for businesses on two occasions. Chamber members agreed with others on recommending a seating capacity of 800 seats and 800 sqm space for events. Both recommendations were to provide differentiation from existing venues, allow for sublease to mitigate financial loss and attract national touring performing arts events, trade shows and general event diversity.  

Chamber requested that Council does not compete against local business or create loss for local businesses in providing cheaper rental space. A need for more parking was also discussed.

The second forum was presented with impressive drawings. Chamber asked to view the business plan and the schedule of users so that we could make informed comment. The architects said in contradiction to the presiding Council officer that a business plan did not exist. Chamber asked to view the schedule of users in confidence and asked if the users were primarily from the community centre – we await a response.

  1. A survey is still to be completed by the Chamber of businesses from the North St intersection to the end of Clyde St. To date the respondents have mixed views. Some have improved trade while others are fearful of the effect of closure of Highway access to Clyde Street.
  1. Chamber members sit on a newly formed “Build the Bay” type marketing committee put together and financed by John Holland, the bridge contractors.  The purpose of this group is to improve CBD business during bridge construction with a marketing program.
  1. Chamber is currently investigating a Federal Election Chamber Breakfast at the Batemans Bay Soldiers Club at 7:30am Tuesday 30 April. The breakfast will be strictly for members and up to two guests. We have invited the following candidates for Gilmore: Fiona Phillips, Warren Mundine, Carmel McCallum and Katrina Hodgkinson.  We will notify members of cost and whether this will occur.
  1. An email reiterating the Chambers push for extending the floating pontoon and T Wharf development has been sent to the Foreshore Action Committee. The current design discussions while offering diversity of use, do not have an increased capacity which we will continue to lobby for.
  1. Chamber has written to the Mayor requesting a timeframe for installation of Sculptures. Chamber offered a further $5,000 towards installation to assist expediting the installation prior to Christmas 2018. 
  1. Chamber awaits a response after supporting the Mayors mediation request.
  1. There has been informal discussions amongst some business owners and others about formation of a Batemans Bay vison strategy group. Narooma has such a group.  While the Chamber has advocated for such for a number of years it is pertinent timing to be involved now.
  1. Chamber Executive (in absence of self interest parties) have decided to support the $200 million Coachhhouse re-development as outlined by the guest speaker in the previous meeting. The development will bring over 100 extra jobs and an unprecedented $200 million private investment to the Shire. In light of current large tourism accommodation proposals, shortage of private investment in Batemans Bay and need for economic growth to address economic and social fundamentals, this decision was taken. The Chamber supports all businesses in Batemans Bay.

BBBTC President Report 2018

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Membership

Membership numbers have slowly grown over the past year. Most meetings see a number of new members welcomed. Exact numbers will be reported in October when membership payments usually complete. The Chamber has relied on attracting members through its actions and word of mouth rather than a membership drive program.

Website and Facebook

The website has recently been simplified and now highlights News and Facebook feed in our attempt to better communicate Chamber activities.

Facebook also has had some recent attention. Members are encouraged to contribute to issues and conversations via Facebook.

Thank you to the members who have assisted in this area. Make sure you go and “Like” the Chamber page

Cross-Chamber Communication

Combined Chamber President meetings have occurred where common issues were discussed. Our Chamber proposed and organised the recent inaugural Chamber President and Councillor lunch. With positive response from some Councilors we hope these continue.

Of particular importance to Chambers is the idea of strengthening the institution through collaboration with ESC (Eurobodalla Shire Council) via an ESC Business Advisory Group which will include the 5 Chambers. This would allow issues to be worked through various Chambers and provide more considered input.

Business in Batemans Bay

There have been various activities contributing to the local economy including high rates of approvals. There are many new developments on the horizon such as the new Batemans Bay Bridge, Mackay Park Development, Shellfish Hatchery and tourism accommodation investment. Batemans Bay has never seen such infrastructure investment in the past, over $600M in the pipeline.

Business has anecdotally reported mixed outcomes for the past financial year.

Tourism accommodation providers contributing over 20% of the five bedroom and above accommodation in the Shire have reported static results or growth commensurate with CPI and annual fluctuations.

Results from all businesses which have refurbished or transformed have been positive.

Current available economic indicators:

  • Employment: Batemans Bay March 2016 = 3003, March 2018 = 3195
  • Unemployment: Batemans Bay March 2017 = 311, March 2018 = 385
  • Gross Regional Product: NSW up 2.7% Eurobodalla up 2.4% (2017 NIEIR)
  • Age Dependency Ratio: Rate at 557 out of 563 Shires in Australia.

ADVOCACY

Batemans Bay: Major Regional Hub Status

Various talks with ESC around the definition of major regional hub status and expected services and facilities have occurred.

Talks with Batemans Bay medical practitioner’s and Southern Health occurred. It is understood that the local doctors have been responsible for an improved look at Batemans Bay Hospital’s role in a key population and regional hub context — especially emergency services.

The executive has discussed Batemans Bay’s regional hub status with each level of Government.

Bridge Construction

Talks with RMS and ESC continue, with a current emphasis on scheduling to mitigate effects on Batemans Bay business.

Mackay Park Development

Funding put forward by Local member Mr Andrew Constance of $26M has been a great boost to enable the development of this much needed community facility, the chamber looks forward to the possibility of being able to assist in the community consultation process.

Hanging Rock Pier Proposal

Chamber continues to advocate to ESC and each level of government on this proposal. It is understand that ESC is continuing to pursue its feasibility. Thank you to ESC for sharing information and Charles Stuart for liaising with each level of Government.

Unregulated Accommodation Platforms

While Chamber supports all accommodation platforms it advocates for a level playing field. Regulation has been somewhat addressed by NSW Government with adopted changes in the CBD of Sydney, though, we believe a local approach may be necessary depending on NSW outcomes and future accommodation developments in Batemans Bay.

Council’s Community Centre and Hall sustainability.

In a recent ESC and Chamber executive meeting we were informed that Council would improve existing venues facilities and equipment, then monitor their use before any decision of rationalization.

Arts and Community Infrastructure

Chamber continues to advocates for arts and community infrastructure including a regional gallery, regional museum, youth entertainment infrastructure and coordinated regional food experience. A proposal on behalf of local business people and the Historical Society was made to the Mayor and Councilors to purchase the Old Bowling Club site for the same price ESC paid. The group anticipated taking advantage of current NSW dollar for dollar infrastructure funding to provide a regional gallery, regional museum, bowling alley and other entertainment. Discussion was not forthcoming.

Hatchery

This development by ESC is a most welcomed opportunity for the Shire’s economy and our local oyster industry. Council is to be congratulated on seizing the opportunity. We hope for a speedy commencement for the supply of spat.

Start Up, Accelerators and Incubators.

Infrastructure for young people and professionals is essential for employment, to curb the exit of youth and balance the age dependency ratio and community demographic. We have seen relocation of some members, young professional families for economic reasons which focuses the need for more advocacy for appropriate infrastructure and services to attract and maintain this important demographic.

Tourism

The Chamber continues to advocate with Council’s Tourism unit, and commends the Tourism unit’s current signage strategy process, re-branding of the Shire process, slated events strategy process and the commencement of achieving relevant data to assist strategy and industry particularly in the off season.

A company (Jim Jam) recently commenced stakeholder discussions regarding branding where a number of members attended. Feedback was that it was very refreshing that a bold company was engaged which could acknowledge industry issues over past branding and campaign shortcomings.

The current DMP (Destination Management Plan) has strong Council commitment to its endorsement and implementation. Chamber has been informed that a communication strategy will then be rolled out connecting industry and strategy.

Events

Chamber welcomes Council’s Tourism and Events Unit intent to develop a new Events Strategy. The Chamber has worked with Council on Batemans Bay Paddle Challenge, Sculpture on Clyde and Seaside Carnivale. Chamber acknowledges issues with Council over the Sculpture on Clyde event with a continuation towards resolution.

There is a recognised need to fund events to a sufficient professional standard to avoid volunteer fatigue and other issues. Chamber has advocated for a strategy which addresses control over dates, funding and professionalism as well as a focus on longer term legacy events in the off season.

Coastal Management Policy

Discussion at monthly meetings and correspondence has spotlighted this issue. While sea level rise models and longer-term predictions have met differing views within the Chamber, there is recognized need for a supported and workable ESC policy. Member concerns include development consents in vulnerable areas with caveats rendering future use uneconomical to devaluation in property value. One question raised is: Will people only learn of impact on their property if a development application is submitted?

No doubt vision strategy and ESC infrastructure planned for the CBD and Village areas will also be impacted. One example presented to Chamber was a tourism development having a caveat placed on it rendering it uneconomical to develop. eg If certain tidal events occur in any calendar year the development is to be removed.

Recently, Chamber members attended a Council workshop on the subject, though Chamber needs to be better informed before commenting.

Council will be asked to present Coastal Management Policy developments to Chamber.

Airport Precinct Leasing or Sale Proposal

The continuing upgrades to the airport by ESC are welcomed and no doubt appreciated by commuters. It would be timely to review and re-engage with ESC at the completion of the current works.

Underwater Sculpture Garden

Chamber and ESC have begun discussions with Marine Parks on the possibility of establishing an Underwater Sculpture Park. Initial talks are positive and continuing.

Floating Pontoons

This project is planned to bring boating enthusiasts, inclusive boating and seaplanes to the heart of the Batemans Bay CBD. The Chamber wishes to have two pontoons located in the Clyde River on the southern shoreline. RMS has agreed in principle to the concept at the T wharf and we continue to advocate thanks to Charles Stuart for the other location.

As a precedent, RMS is considering total funding and on-going maintenance (a first for them) of the project.

Food Bowl

ESC via the Rural Producers Advisory Committee have had discussions with University experts. Thank you to Roger Gribble for his presentation to Chamber. This is an ongoing project.

Roads and Pathways

New paths and roads by ESC are welcomed. Chamber looks forward to the completion of the Spine Road and continues to work for a shared and linked pathway around the bay.

Inclusive Tourism Precinct

The Chambers push for an inclusive tourism precinct has been assisted by Charles Stuart from The Bay Push Inc .. The Bay Push Inc. led the way with the Inclusive playground at Corrigan’s reserve and proposes that available Crown Land at Corrigan’s reserve be utilized for the construction of Inclusive tourism attractions. The wider precinct concept integrates well with substantial existing inclusive infrastructure.

Vision Strategy

Chamber looks forward to further provision of assistance when the Vision or Place Making strategy commences for Batemans Bay CBD. Coastal Management Policy and Bridge Construction could well play a part in lengthening the process.

Conclusion:

Chamber has advocated and addressed fundamental economic and social issues to further a better place to do business, live and invest. The purpose of the Chamber is to provide a networking and advocacy opportunity for members and to collaborate and challenge with each level of government for better business and community outcomes. Some issues we have had success and some not, either way our existence is important.

The Chamber Executive and member support has been paramount over the past year. I would like to thank all for your effort.

I would also like to thank the many presenters who volunteered their time, and to friends and associates of the Chamber who have enabled events, submissions and advocacy work for the Chamber.

As volunteers we have achieved much. The Chamber continues to grow and influence, primarily through word-of-mouth.

For myself it has been a privilege to serve as Chamber President. I look forward to another year, after which the Chamber will support a new President.

David Maclachlan

Batemans Bay Business and Tourism Chamber President

 

Download BBBTC President Report 2018 PDF

Sculpture on Clyde includes World Class Venue

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To reignite the event, Sculpture on Clyde will host outdoor sculptures at world class venue Willinga Park, the indoor sculptures will be hosted at the Clyde St. heritage venue used last year. The winners of the Schools Mathematical Sculpture competition will be concurrently displayed in shop fronts in the form of a Sculpture Walk through Batemans Bay CBD.

Following supportive discussions with Eurobodalla Shire Council we await confirmation on additional public sites for the permanent display of the Acquisitive prize, which in turn increases the scope of potential entrants and art.
Willinga Park has been integral in assisting this years event. The world class equestrian centre has international award winning architecture, internationally recognised Sculptures and an unsurpassed garden which will be utilised for our event. All the key ingredients for a true destination event. As the Willinga Park area does not have Hotel or Food and Beverage options which Batemans Bay does, we will be integrating our marketing with Batemans Bay business and capitalising on the importance of the Canberra tourist route. This is a real opportunity for Batemans Bay to tap into a world class destination venue.

“We have made some changes to the format of the event” said Chamber of Commerce president, David Maclachlan. “This will enable us to overcome difficulties around bridge construction uncertainty, insurance, security and the site logistics of putting on such a major event with volunteers.”

“The changes will also allow the event to expand quickly as a true destination event bringing in domestic and international tourists, all to the benefit of local businesses and local resident, with a resultant legacy of a world class sculpture walk”.

The $60,000 total prize money which was entirely raised by Batemans Bay locals is still on offer. The money saved from working with Willinga Park will go to an additional sculpture acquisition for the Sculpture on Clyde Sculpture Walk.

The committee is also engaged with founding a local sculpture residency award and will shortly be in talks involving local artists for an underwater sculpture garden.

The two event venues will be linked by a bus shuttle service on the weekend.

“We are happy with continued support from Destination NSW, Eurobodalla Shire Council, State Member for Bega Minister Andrew Constance and Ann Sudmalis MP, Federal Member for Gilmore”, David Maclachlan said.
It’s a win for everyone and the Sculpture on Clyde committee is already busy with arrangements to make it happen. Entries close July 30 so artists are urged to continue sculpting their works so we can all enjoy them from August 25 until September 2.

Eurobodalla Business Awards

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The Eurobodalla Business Awards is a shire wide awards program that aligns with the NSW Business Awards through the NSW Business Chamber.

Follow the link to enter the Eurobodalla Business Awards.

This will take you to the Eurobodalla Business Awards website and the online entry portal.

Please note that the entry period is from Monday 2 July 2018 to Friday 3 August 2018.


Award Categories

There will be ten award categories in 2018:

  • Outstanding Young Entrepreneur
  • Outstanding Young Employee
  • Business Leader
  • Start Up Superstar
  • Excellence in Small Business (1-4 employees)
  • Excellence in Small Business (5-10 employees)
  • Excellence in Small Business (11- 19 employees)
  • Excellence in Small Business (overall winner)
  • Excellence in Business
  • Local Chamber of Commerce Award

Key Dates

  • Entries open: Monday 2 July – Friday 3 August 2018
  • Judging period: Saturday 4 August – Friday 17 August 2018
  • People’s Choice Award voting opens: Wednesday 8 August 2018
  • Finalists announced: Monday 20 August 2018
  • Gala Dinner: Saturday 8 September 2018