Grafton Chamber of Commerce president Phil Belletty believes recent growth figures in the Clarence Valley are the result of new thriving business precincts such as in Iolanthe St in South Grafton and is confident economic growth will continue into the future for the region. Photo: Tim Howard
Grafton Chamber of Commerce president Phil Belletty believes recent growth figures in the Clarence Valley are the result of new thriving business precincts such as in Iolanthe St in South Grafton and is confident economic growth will continue into the future for the region. Photo: Tim Howard Tim Howard

Positive economic news met with scepticism

FIGURES showing the Clarence Valley economy surging with double digit growth have been greeted sceptically in some sectors of the community.

>> RELATED: Report figures reveal Clarence Valley economy experienced 13.1% growth in 2014/15

Social media commentators were incredulous about some of the figures Clarence Valley Council's Economic Monitor released on Monday showing the region growing by 13.1% in 2014-15.

Comments included:

  • "For those in dwindling businesses or unemployed this is offensive. Reminiscent to John Howard's infamous last comment 'Australians have never been better off'."
  • "Let's face it the majority of people in the valley don't benefit financially from this economic activity and there are a very small minority who do."
  • "Perhaps the rose coloured glasses need to be removed so things can be seen as they really are."

For the Grafton Chamber of Commerce president Phil Belletty the response was no surprise.

"I think a lot of people in the region have good memories and go back to a time when people were lacking confidence," Mr Belletty said.

"Sure Dick Smith's is closing and Retravision has left, but those closures were caused by issues outside the region.

"There's a lot of renewal in the region as well with new businesses starting up."

>> OUR SAY: Let's aim for more economic growth

Mr Belletty said that some of the new projects were occurring away from Prince St, which might account for some of the scepticism.

"There's a couple of corner stores opening in Turf St and Fry St in Westlawn," he said.

"When corner stores are opening up, that's generally an indication the economy is starting to move."

He said businesses were also starting up in pockets away from the main CBD.

"South Grafton is becoming the place to be. That centre with BCF, Red Rooster, the fitness centre and others is a real pocket of development and Skinner St is also charging ahead.

Mr Belletty said the infrastructure projects in the region including the Pacific Highway upgrade, new bridges and a new jail, plus the upgrade of the old jail had begun to restore confidence in the region.

"That's all going to feed into retail and then things will really get going."



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