06/07/1999 - 22:00

Regional chambers need to stay proactive

06/07/1999 - 22:00

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Regional areas throughout Australia regularly face challenges not always fully understood by those who live and work in major metropolitan centres.

Regional chambers need to stay proactive
Regional areas throughout Australia regularly face challenges not always fully understood by those who live and work in major metropolitan centres.

What is more, business and community are often interwoven in regional and remote areas, placing special importance on organisations such as chambers of commerce.

In a significant way, chambers of commerce – and other like-minded organisations – need to continually look to new and pro-active ways of helping improve the economic environment of their area and assisting in job creation and economic and social prosperity.

In the South West region there have been recent major developments that have called for innovative ways of dealing with issues.

Two such issues come to mind – the closure of BHP’s Beenup mineral sands mine and the political hot potato that is the debate over the logging of old growth forests.

In both cases there are significant issues of job losses and economic restructure – for people, for communities and for the regional economy.

In the case of the Beenup closure, the South West Chambers of Commerce and Industry has positioned itself to help deal with the fallout.

Indeed, it is part of the Chambers’ charter to assist member chambers in any way it can.

Currently, eleven chambers are members of the South West Chambers of Commerce and Industry and three new chambers are expected to be formed and affiliated within the next six months.

To provide some assistance to the Augusta-Margaret River area, within which the Beenup mine is located, the South West Chambers of Commerce and Industry has sought funding for a detailed economic and social impact study through a Federal Government initiative known as the Regional Assistance Program.

This study will help identify the downstream effects of the mine closure and those groups and stakeholders who have been, or will be, directly or indirectly affected. The desired eventual outcome of such studies is the identification of new business and employment opportunities within affected sub-regions.

At the same time, the South West also faces a very important, yet divisive, issue in relation to the Regional Forest Agreement and the fallout from any changes to the agreement between the State and Federal Governments.

The above is a logical approach to the downstream effect of any significant reduction in logging activity in the South West timber region affecting the towns of Nannup, Pemberton, Manjimup, Bridgetown-Greenbushes and Walpole. It is a direct responsibility of chambers of commerce to help facilitate a vibrant economic environment within which employment growth and associated social wealth can be generated, especially in small towns.

There is a real challenge ahead for us to address the impact of job losses out of the logging issue and it’s a challenge we all need to address in a cooperative manner involving all stakeholders – business, industry, the community and the Government of the day.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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