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11 September 2019
By DEAN LAWSON
Capitalising on diversity, having a dedicated district approach and always exploring ways of moving forward have emerged as key objectives of a reinvigorated business-advocate group in Ararat.
Newly elected Ararat Regional Business Association president Maria Whitford said she was excited by high levels of energy and broad representation of industry in the group.
“We have people who have joined the committee from different cross-sections of industry,” she said.
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“We have people from retail and hospitality to manufacturing, from agribusiness to service provision, from real estate and construction to tourism and marketing.
“It is large and wonderful diversity and will really complement the region’s business representation, influence and, importantly, energy.
“We’re on a mission to help stimulate the business community in a collaborative way – in other words, basically going into bat for Ararat district.”
Members elected Mrs Whitford, Ararat RSL general manager, and other officials at an annual meeting.
Harvey Norman Ararat franchisee Josh Bywater is vice-president, Westpac Bank Ararat branch manager Tony Hamann treasurer and David Jennings from Elders secretary.
Others on the committee are Jane Goninon, Russell Pearse, Liesa Iezekil, Sarah Holland, Isabelle Fennessy, Nick Carthew, Cam Conboy and Mark Clyne.
Mrs Whitford said one of the key messages manifesting from the process of rekindling a strong business representative base in Ararat district was recognising the role of the overall municipality.
“Making this work is not just about working out of Ararat itself – it is about acknowledging the role every part of the municipality plays in the overall health and vibrancy of the district,” she said.
“We will need to work on strategic planning, establish short and long-term goals while at the same time knowing we need to have some quick wins.
“We want to get the ball rolling and don’t want to fall into a trap of having meeting after meeting, which achieves little.
“A fundamental priority of this group is to avoid becoming complacent.
“We must have a proactive philosophical approach where we are more inclined to explore ideas and solutions instead of being reactionary to perceived problems.
“There are going to be some things we can’t fix, but in knowing that we still need a clear understanding of what we stand for and how we can achieve objectives.
“We already have some ideas on the table and with such diversity in the community we are confident we will be able to put runs on the board that benefit the community.
“We have a lot of work to do but the energy in this group is electric, which is giving everyone considerable confidence. Watch this space.”
Mrs Whitford said Ararat Rural City Council, in appointing an officer to work directly with the association, had provided a profound endorsement for business to take a stronger lead in Ararat district direction.
“The council has been outstanding in providing us with the necessary leverage to reboot Ararat district’s business and industry voice in the municipality,” she said.
“It means we’re starting this new push from a very strong position.”
The entire September 11, 2019 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!