Support for inner city businesses in spotlight at Newcastle forum

Support for inner city businesses in spotlight at Newcastle forum

Over 130 business people attended a forum in Newcastle last week to hear from the Office of the NSW Small Business Commissioner (SBC), Robyn Hobbs OAM on ways businesses can be supported in view of reported downturns occurring whilst the revitalisation program proceeds in the Newcastle City Centre.

Michael Cassel, Chief Executive Officer of Hunter Development Corporation (HDC) also provided an update on the progress of the light rail program.

Hunter Business Chamber CEO, Bob Hawes said there were clear messages from businesses about loss of patronage despite efforts being made to ensure access and parking are available whilst the revitalisation works are in progress.

“There was a lot of emotion in the room and it is clear from the turn out, a high level of interest from business is understanding how they can be supported and attract patronage back to the city,” Bob said.

“The Office of the SBC offered a raft of support and assistance which will supplement locally-based support currently available through The Business Centre – Newcastle, Newcastle Now, the Hunter Business Chamber and also measures in place through the HDC revitalisation program.”

Executive Manager of Newcastle Now, Michael Neilson said there were a number of constructive measures to come out of the forum that Newcastle Now and the Hunter Business Chamber will be pursuing.

“This includes establishing a working group made up of city centre businesses to further interrogate how best to address business concerns,” Michael said.

“We will also take up Robyn Hobbs’ offer to maintain ongoing direct contact with the Office of the SBC.

“It is also going to be necessary to de-brief to a range of stakeholders including Newcastle City Council.”

During the forum The Office of the SBC undertook to waive the fees usually charged for part of the three stage mediation process they conduct. This is a significant assistance for businesses that elect to use this service.

The Office of the SBC has also agreed to assist the Chamber and Newcastle Now with further enquiries on other options that could support business.

Business Hunter

Business Hunter is the new name for the organisation formerly known as the Hunter Business Chamber. We are the largest regional peak business group in Australia, representing members across all business and industry sectors. Business Hunter is a not-for-profit member organisation dedicated to connecting people in business with what they need to succeed.

We have been the voice of business in the Hunter since 1886. Our members are part of a network of more than 2,500 businesses across the region. That network includes members of 20 aligned local chambers across 10 local government areas, stretching from the Mid North Coast to Lake Macquarie and inland to Scone. From main-street retailers to ASX 100 corporates, our member businesses power Australia's strongest regional economy. 

The name Business Hunter was adopted in February 2020 to better reflect the vibrant and diverse businesses the organisation represents. The new name also aligns with our affiliates Business NSW and Business Australia.

Business Hunter has been through a number of name changes; what has never changed is our commitment to helping our members do business better, to drive growth and prosperity in the Hunter region.

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