‘Mary St landlords have to drop rent’, experts say
IF GYMPIE wants to avoid being left out in the cold in the years ahead it needs to embrace what is on offer now.
This was the message driven home by guest speakers at yesterday’s Gympie Chamber of Commerce breakfast, who joined a cohort of about 100 owners eager to unlock into the region’s potential.
Caloundra Chamber of Commerce CEO Olivia Sainsbury said one of the keys had to be a focus on making good Gympie businesses great.
This included tackling the ever-present problem of main streets littered by empty shops.
One way was to rethink the existing ideas that have ultimately lead to the city’s main streets being littered with empty shops.
“Landlords have to lower rent,” Ms Sainsbury said.
Shops may be better served by moving away from one sole tenant and into the realm of small pop-up shops sharing space.
“We’ve got a lot of great products and things but they can’t afford to rent a massive shop, and they don’t really need it.”
“We don’t want dead main streets.
“Online shopping is only going to increase; we’re behind America and the UK and they’re going up.
“It’d be silly to think we’re going to go backwards.”
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And in this there were opportunities.
She pointed to one Caloundra business that started with two employees and now boasts 120.
This was done by embracing the future.
“Automation has made him create jobs,” she said.
“Don’t focus just on start ups, of which over 90 per cent fail.”
Business needed to be at the forefront of the looming Queensland election, too.
“What has recently happened has shown just how reliant we are on small to medium businesses,” Ms Sainsbury said.
“An economy is run by them.”
Ms Sainsbury was one of two guest speakers at the breakfast; she was joined by Trade and Investment Queensland’s Brett Tucker.
Mr Tucker said Gympie businesses needed to get on the front foot to keep from being drowned in the post-COVID wash.
“Every business should be encouraged to have a growth plan,” Mr Tucker said.
He said funding would also be central to the recovery and business owners must ensure they took advantage of every opportunity available.
“If you can’t get a grant in the next 12 months, you’re not trying” Mr Tucker said.
It was also key to ensure the city’s name was known by more than just its population.
“How does anyone know to come here if you don’t promote it?” he said.
Mr Tucker’s suggestions were thrown into the ring with others from the community, including a need to focus on the opportunities presented by sports and an ageing demographic.
The potential of the $1 billion bypass was a common theme, too.