Business in the Maitland area has seen a resurgence of enthusiasm in in the last 12 months, in part due to the changes being implemented by the Maitland Business Chamber (MBC).
Established in 1949, like all Chambers of Commerce, the purpose of the MBC was to represent the business operators in their region. Over 60 years later this still holds true, but they also now bring together local organisations to encourage business growth and prosperity and to promote the city and region to outside investors and businesses.
Under the direction of 2013 President, Steve Thomson, the MBC has been focused on creating positive change and providing more benefits to members.
“It was a last minute opportunity to throw my hat into the ring for President, but I jumped at the chance as I felt there were some changes that had to be made so that the Chamber was adding more value to Members,” Steve said.
“We exist to promote business in the Maitland area, and to provide a vehicle for likeminded business people to come together and share ideas.”
In the 2012 financial year the MBC recorded a lost of approximately $6,000, to then follow with a profit the following year of the same amount as well as grow their membership substantially.
Steve now has a feature column appear in the Maitland Mercury each fortnight and they will be introducing a new Constitution at their AGM in November.
“One of our core functions should be to provide a voice for the business community with media and all levels of government, and to engage with the broader community,” Steve said.
“We also need to ensure that we are keeping the image of the Chamber itself current and fresh.”
In addition to his duties as President, Steve runs his own consultancy longhardlook, specialising in consulting to financial services businesses. He has also recently branched out into partnership with another local businessman (and MBC Vice President) Craig McGregor to establish Cursii, providing career pathways and outplacement services.
Coinciding with the MBC overhaul, Maitland City Council is currently investigating ways to revitalise Central Maitland.
Their first step has been the creation of a project to redevelop the mall, called 'the Levee', and is one of their key initiatives identified in the Central Maitland Structure Plan to establish a vibrant lifestyle precinct and reinforce Central Maitland as a major regional centre.
The project will include two components, the first of which is the refurbishment of High Street, featuring a shared vehicle and pedestrian zone. It will include stone paving in the shared zone and within the Heritage Mall space with asphalt intersections at Elgin and Bourke Streets.
The second component features the construction of the River Link building and a partial refurbishment of both the River Walk and the riverside section of the Bourke Street link.
The cost of the project is estimated to be just under $15 million.