Council keeps eye on Valley business

A SNAPSHOT survey of Clarence Valley businesses has shown a general optimism for improved trading as we get further into 2009.

Clarence Valley Mayor Richie Williamson said the on-line survey measured Clarence business confidence by asking a number of important questions.

Ninety-seven local businesses participated in the council survey conducted during January and February.

The respondents viewed the outlook for the Clarence as being slightly more positive in 2009.

Half of businesses surveyed anticipated a weaker result for the March quarter, compared with the December quarter.

However, results also showed limited negative impact on staffing numbers, with just four per cent having reduced staff numbers at the time of the survey.

As well, more than half the businesses surveyed were intending to increase or maintain their capital investment intentions for the rest of the year.

Cr Williamson said that while the Valley was not immune to the economic downturn, the survey results suggested a level of cautious optimism.

“(This) is encouraging in such challenging operating conditions for business and industry,” he said.

“The full extent of the global crisis seems likely to impact regional areas later in the year and into 2010.”

Cr Williamson said the survey results would assist council to track business sentiment over time, identify areas of assistance needed to support local business growth, and seek views on issues influencing business performance.

“We will be repeating the survey in July to measure how the Clarence region is progressing and to see to what extent the region has benefited from the current set of stimulus packages,” Cr Williamson said.

Grafton Chamber of Commerce president Jeremy Challacombe said the business feedback he had received suggested there was not a lot of spending money around but the Clarence Valley may be faring better than some other places.

“Yes, things are tight, but we're in a good position of having a major shopping centre in Grafton, so money will stay in the area,” he said.

He described the council survey as 'a very useful tool'.

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