Welcome back to our paper, the Namoi Valley Independent.
Chamber advocated for its return because it is at the heart of our community where we live, work and play and universal access is essential, particularly during a crisis.
Our shire seems to be surviving the pandemic surprisingly well.
The CBD is buzzing again. Our residents are rediscovering the pleasure of the "Keep it local" campaign and Gunny Money gift cards, with our retailers offering great customer service.
Having our pubs, cafes and restaurants open again is very welcome.
There are several construction projects going on for local suppliers.
Rain has brought feed for livestock and a winter crop.
Our farmers' willingness to have another go after years of drought has provided much needed stimulus throughout our economy.
We hope for continued good weather and strong commodity prices, productive calving/lambing rates and a successful harvest.
It seems prolonged drought and COVID19 cannot beat us.
Our farmers are our biggest employer.
Chamber is aware that many of you have benefited from JobKeeper and the cashflow boost.
We are keeping watch on government policy on these payments.
Any transition out must be gradual to avoid a further shock. We need to keep people employed in a sustainable way.
Our council has been an excellent support.
The special COVID-19 round of the Business Partner Program saw 22 successful applications for almost $33,000 to build capacity and resilience in business.
That is additional to the other $150,000 granted so far.
Chamber is working with council on a recovery from COVID-19, advocating for more local procurement, to value add to our products and to bring in more investment to our shire. Watch this space.
The resilience of our business owners, and the commitment of their customers and employees, is truly amazing.
It seems prolonged drought and COVID-19 cannot beat us.
We are doing better than most of the state, one indicator being our gross regional product reducing by 9.7% rather than the state average of 13.6%.
We would prefer it to be growing but, looking for the positive, being ahead on this significant statistic may mean a better bounce back to whatever the new "normal" will be.
Preparing for that is probably on your minds as a new financial year begins.
We know business needs to innovate, become more efficient and try to preserve capital (including human capital) to survive this crisis.
None of us can crystal ball what the future will be.
Really tough decisions may need to be made.
The focus may be on the short term rather than the grand 5-year plan now.
If you can preserve or grow your balance sheet, manage your costs for effective cash flow or invest in your employees for future demand, you may thrive and that is chamber's wish for you in the new financial year.