Clarence businesses snub council initiative

THE response of local businesses to an initiative to work more closely with local government to support local business, attract industry to the region and promote its businesses outside the region has been disappointing.

Clarence Valley Council invited expressions of interest from businesses and the five chambers of commerce in the Valley to establish the Clarence Business Advisory Committee.

Only five responses were received, which has disappointed both the Mayor, Richie Williamson, and the regional manager Northern Rivers branch of NSW Business Chamber, John Murray.

At Tuesday's council environment, planning and works committee meeting it was reported there were three responses from the chambers and two from businesses, although Cr Craig Howe moved to add another.

Mr Murray made a deputation to the meeting, where he gave the move his tick of approval, but said he was disappointed with the response to the initiative from the chambers and local business.

But Mr Murray said councils should look to forming partnerships throughout the region to attract new enterprises.

"I think the best way to attract businesses is not to think about it in terms of geographical or local government geographic boundaries, but the more regional approach and good studies have found this to be the case as well," he said.

Mr Murray also urged the council to join in the State Government's Small Business Friendly Program.

He said half the councils in NSW had joined up in the nine months it has been operating, with another 20 to join.

Five of the seven councils in the north of the state were part of the program.

"It exposes you to a whole lot of positive initiatives that other councils are implementing in the state about trying to work better with local businesses," he said.

Cr Williamson said the council was already working with the Coffs Harbour and Nambucca Bellingen councils on regional issues around the State Government's Fit for the Future project.

He said the council met some of the Small Business Friendly benchmarks and could go even further by establishing regional partnerships between local governments and business.

The council will have a report on the Small Business Friendly program for its July or August meetings.



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