The 2012 / 2013 year will be a period of strategic innovation for the Broken Hill Chamber of Commerce with the aim to harness the full potential of knowledge shard by business and industry in Far West NSW.
The past 10 months have been extremely fulfilling for me, jumping from the public sector into private. On all levels, the private sector is innovative, committed and represents the true leaders of our community. It is the risk taking and commitment to investment that has inspired me the most.
Since appointed in October 2011, I have worked with the our President Paul Seager and the Board to analyse the business of the Chamber, identify new opportunities, spoken to a broad cross section of members and worked with our president Paul Seager on a blazing trail of media, in the traditional and new spheres with the aim to raise the profile of the Chamber.
We have built new networks designed to put the Chamber in the leadership position for contact for developers and investors and I am eternally grateful to the Board – they have supported ideas and concepts that have not been previously engaged by the Chamber and I appreciate the robust discussions that we have at each meeting to ensure that the decisions made will benefit our members and broader community.
During 2011 / 2012, the Chamber has spent considerable resources and energy reflecting on its purpose and how it can best service the needs of its membership and community. This has included:
- Establishing strategic relationships with government and industry organisations
- Lobbying for improved services and funding
- Seeking representation on consultative committees
- Promoting its membership to investors
- Promoting the value of excellent customer service and co-ordinating Excellence in Customer Service Recognition Awards
- Marketing the Chamber’s activities on a broader platform including embracing social media
- Providing a free advisory service for members in relation to FairWork Australia, industrial issues and wage summaries
- Indentifying and providing training opportunities
- Supporting the Small Businesses Commissioner in her learnings of business and industry in rural NSW
On the industrial front, it has been a steep learning curve and, while FairWork Australia has reduced the number of industrial inquiries to the Chamber, we still field about five calls a week. I am indebted to our Public Officer, Sharon Hocking, who has guided and provided me with excellent support in this complicated field. Sharon has also spent countless hours converting award rates of pay during this period of transition. Her patience has been my saving Grace! And to Wayne Lee, our Treasurer, who has been my constant. Without Wayne, I would have been lost in a whirlwind of figures! Wayne is a fantastic mentor and my right hand person. Wayne’s caring nature, corporate knowledge, passion for the Chamber and eye for detail has made my transition from the public to private sector a very rewarding experience.
The two-day listening tour I was privileged to share with NSW Small Business Commissioner Yasmin King, also confirmed the historical resilience of Broken Hill business. Our business and industry leaders are strong and positive and I was proud to listen to their stories of ingenuity. It is just as important to share with Government our positive stories as it is to inform them of how they remove the many blockages that prohibit business from growing in regional NSW. I was inspired by the stories that our business owners are often less concerned about the impact on their business when tough decisions need to be made than the impact on their employees and employees’ families. This was an essential message to the Government about the importance of business support to sustain our rural, regional and remote communities.
On a different tangent, I was surprised that only 11 per cent of businesses registered in the region are members of the Chamber and the majority of members represent the construction, trades and mining industries. This is unusual. Traditional Chamber’s of Commerce represent retail and service industries. Such a small membership restricts the work we can do, limits our capacity to expand our level of support and sets inhibitive parameters around how we can best lobby for business opportunities for you. While we have established partnerships, including a Memorandum of Understanding with the Enterprise Development Centre, to help grow our services, the Chamber is reliant on the business community to support its activities through membership. In particular, the Chamber can play a key role working with sole and small businesses who are struggling to meet all the legislative commitments required to grow their business. The Chamber is here for you … to decipher the legislation, the red tape, keep you informed and provide training opportunities for you at a discounted rate.
To enhance this, the Chamber has also set in motion in its 2012-2013 Strategic Plan to pursue grant opportunities and other streams of revenue. But, to argue our case, we need you. The more members we have the stronger voice we have and the more credibility we have on government, investors and developers. The Chamber is your voice. Let’s make this happen.