A session led by the Margaret River Main Street Upgrade Project Advisory Group has given retailers and business owners in the CBD the chance to voice concerns and look at solutions to reduce negative impacts of the upcoming works to the central precinct.
According to Margaret River Chamber of Commerce (MRCCI) president Steven Castan, the group was formed to provide a bridge between project stakeholders - including the AMR Shire - and business owners in the area.
"As the town prepares for a the possibility of a painful period for a positive outcome - being a safer friendlier and more beautiful main street - the MRCCI understands a number of local businesses are facing challenges and is working hard behind the scenes to support the business community," said Mr Castan.
Mr Castan said the chamber saw a positive future for business within the region, but acknowledged the makeover would be a challenging time for owners and operators.
"The MRCCI is a founding partner of the Advisory Group, working hard to liaise between businesses and the construction company to help mitigate against any disruptions, as well as develop strategies to positively market the Main Street Makeover and maintain foot traffic. The MRCCI also successfully petitioned the Shire to fund and run a marketing campaign during the construction period which is now being implemented."
Traders gathered at Riversmith Cafe last week and expressed concerns with traffic, parking, noise and potential disruptions.
"It was encouraging to see the positive and supportive shift with Project Manager Sean Shields, CEO Stephanie Addison-Brown and Sustainable Economy Office Saul Cresswell," said Mr Castan.
Developments announced at the meeting included a new staging of the project to reduce traffic interruptions, a new marketing budget for hoardings, information boards and flyers, new lines of communication for traders to voice concerns and have questions answered throughout the duration of the project, and a Shire website YourSay page for updates and frequently asked questions.
"The MRCCI Support Local Subcommittee recently secured funds to launch a support local campaign on Small Business day on October 26, encouraging the community to think local first," said Mr Castan.
"This will be a sustained, well thought out campaign which will run for the long term."
With parking restrictions and detours a large focus for traders ahead of the upgrades, a parking report has been drafted by the chamber to counteract the loss of 25 parking spaces.
Mr Castan said the 'Parking Outside the Square' report and its recommendations were now with the Shire's Director of Infrastructure. "We look forward to a joint effort to implement the solutions to this issue in the future," he said.
The chamber has also facilitated a number of workshops for members to help navigate the ups and downs of operating a business in the region.
"The MRCCI is continually working to combat the economic downturn, support and advocate for small businesses and focus on the positive," Mr Castan said. "Events such as monthly sundowners at local businesses, skill building workshops and the Business Awards all contribute to a positive, sustainable and thriving business community.
"We also recently held a series of sold-out of Digital Marketing member workshops, as well as advocating in Parliament for the completion of the Busselton Margaret River Regional Airport.
"Our Business Awards on August 21 will be recognising and celebrating the local business community, boosting business confidence and showcasing our award winning region."
Mr Castan said the chamber welcomed feedback and questions from members around the upgrades and looked forward to the successful completion of the large scale project.
"The MRCCI will continue to work closely with the Main Street Traders and the Shire to help support our members and all businesses through the redevelopment," he said.
Have your say: Are you concerned with aspects of the makeover? Do you think the street needs an overhaul? Let us know your thoughts at www.margaretrivermail.com.au/comment