New Grafton Chamber of Commerce president Katie Kelemec, Des Harvey, outgoing president Phil Belletty and Kevin Hogan at the announcement of CCTVC coverage for Grafton and South Grafton which the chamber campaigned tirelessly for.
New Grafton Chamber of Commerce president Katie Kelemec, Des Harvey, outgoing president Phil Belletty and Kevin Hogan at the announcement of CCTVC coverage for Grafton and South Grafton which the chamber campaigned tirelessly for. Caitlan Charles

REPORT CARD: How has the chamber fared the past 12 months?

OVER the past year the Grafton Chamber of Commerce has made several changes that have propelled the organisation into a more professional light.

Outgoing president Phil Belletty said this was one of his biggest achievements while at the helm of the chamber.

"Look at the website, look at the marketing, look at our new constitution," he said about some of the major changes to occur in the last few months.

"Now we also engage in relationships with council and organisations like Infrastructure NSW for the jail.

"Everyone can bash organisations like the council, but you're going to achieve nothing."

Mr Belletty added that their relationship with council had developed to one that was beneficial for everyone.

"It was interesting at the very first meeting with the new council, they appointed a member to sit with the chamber, a chamber representative," he said.

"That tells me council has got us in the front of their mind and understand the importance of the chamber.

"We are a strong lobby group. We pushed for the reopening of the existing jail, but more importantly we pushed for the opening of the new jail because we said to the politicians that we've got a community that is accepting and wants to look at the future.

"We need to create jobs for our younger generations. That's why it's so important we really push a lot of these initiatives, and quite successfully."

During his time as president, Mr Beletty saw the new Grafton bridge approved by the NSW Government.

"The bridge has been a chamber initiative for 20 years. People like Des Harvey and Ron Bell, they've been pushing it for that long and finally someone is listening."

But Mr Belletty said the chamber will continue to build strong relationships that can help the community.

"We've got a lot of work to do. It doesn't stop here. Part of the emphasis is about engaging the youth, engaging the next generation, which is why we've gone through a succession plan which looks at a younger president and a younger vice president to really be mindful of the fact that we need change, significant change.

"It's happening. We've got to make the best we can of the changes and the reality is we want to bring all the businesses with us."



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