With an economic downturn and the upcoming Margaret River Main Street redevelopment set to provide a new set of challenges for the region's businesses, the Margaret River Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MRCCI) is looking to the future with plans to launch a new campaign designed to promote, support and generate business within the community.
Newly appointed MRCCI President Melissa D'Ath, who stepped into the role last week after the end of previous President Steve Castan's term, said the campaign would provide a positive focus for businesses and customers alike.
"Just thinking local first, it's really the key," Ms D'Ath told the Mail this week.
"We want to harness that pride and pleasure that people have living in the region, giving them those opportunities to share the uniqueness of Margaret River and working to build the momentum of growth."
MRCCI chief executive Rebecca Young said the change in leadership at the chamber would see Mr Castan's significant efforts in widening the local business network continue.
"Steve was a fantastic asset to the chamber for many years and made some strong in-roads into making the chamber a more visible, accessible entity for people to connect with," she said.
"Within the chamber committee we are lucky to have a varied group of business owners and stakeholders from all industries, and from there those people form sub committees to focus on aspects of the chamber's work."
Ms D'Ath said the upcoming campaign would help the region's businesses ride out the disruptive period with as much help as possible.
"The Main Street upgrade is really a focus for the chamber," she said.
"We want to make sure we are supporting all our members - I think people think only businesses on the main street will be affected, but it will have a massive knock on effect if we are not resilient as a business community."
Margaret River real estate agent Rachel Yugovich said she was thrilled to be in the Deputy President's seat, with the three women working closely to complement each others' skills as well as balancing work, life and chamber responsibilities.
"I see this as another opportunity to connect with the community and use my experience and skills to help the chamber and our members roll out these projects and maintain the lines of support," she said.
As proprietor of the Margaret River Artisan Store, Ms D'Ath said the shop, which supports local creatives and artisans in a collective retail space, would not survive without the backing of locals.
"Yes, we have tourists and they are an important part of our economy, but there needs to be a strong focus on building that awareness right here in the local community, so that when someone needs to buy an item or use a service, they are aware firstly that they are able to do that here in their own backyards but also that the cost of doing that is not as extreme as they might believe."
Ms D'Ath said the concept of 'Mark Up River' - the belief that retail and services are far more expensive in the region - was incorrect and with better information available, consumers would be keen to support their local businesses.
"It's also important for businesses to know that it is possible to thrive in a difficult environment, by seeking and using all the information and support that is available to them.
"There really is a surprising amount of help out there, certainly within the Chamber and beyond, that can help. It's very important that business owners come to us as early as they can so that we can help them to survive these tougher times and adapt as the economy changes."
The local campaign will extend to community groups, and include a special Christmas promotion for the summer season and beyond.
For news from the Margaret River CCI and be informed about meetings and events, visit www.facebook.com/margscci
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.