19 August 2021

Glittering Goulburn business awards to celebrate town's resilience

| Katrina Condie
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Danae Vitnell, Paul Scott-Williams and Bob Kirk at 2019 Goulburn Business Awards

Danae Vitnell and Paul Scott-Williams, from Hume Conservatorium, receive their award from Goulburn Mulwaree Council Mayor Bob Kirk at the 2019 Goulburn Business Awards. Photo: Goulburn Chamber of Commerce.

Despite the current lockdown, the Goulburn Chamber of Commerce is forging ahead with its 2021 gala business awards night and ramping up its ‘Shop 2580’ campaign in an effort to support and celebrate local businesses during tough times.

While many Goulburn businesses have adapted and continue to thrive during the COVID-19 pandemic, others, especially those that rely on passing trade, are really struggling.

Chamber president Darrell Weekes says the organisation is doing what it can to help businesses, their employees and the community as a whole.

Health restrictions allowing, he says the Goulburn Business Awards night is on track to go ahead in October, and he hopes it will be a glittering COVID-19-safe event offering business people an opportunity to dress up and celebrate together.

The 2020 awards night was a virtual event.

“It will be fantastic to celebrate the resilience and initiatives of our local businesses during the past two years,” says Darrell.

“We’re really hoping it will be a physical event because everyone’s been working hard and they need a good night out – it’s something to look forward to.

“It will be a chance to frock up, come out and celebrate – and maybe pick up an award.”

The chamber is encouraging existing and new businesses to enter the awards in one or more of the large selection of award categories, including outstanding employees, new entrepreneurs, and those who have succeeded in business following a career change.

Businesses don’t have to be chamber members to enter.

Darrell says the chamber is “doing its best to keep local business going” through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Like many regional areas, Goulburn relies on passing trade and visitors from Greater Sydney, and the ongoing lockdown is hitting the town hard.

However, on a positive note, he says more Goulburn locals are spending money on items such as cars, home maintenance and household items, and the chamber is set to ramp up its ‘Shop 2580’ campaign to encourage residents to continue shopping local.

“The campaign is getting a lot of traction and we’ve got some great promotions coming up,” says Darrell.

“‘Shop 2580’ allows people to purchase gift cards that can be spent in 30 or 40 local stores, and it’s doing really well.”

Due to the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic and the potential for more lockdowns, the chamber has cancelled this year’s Explore Local Expo that was scheduled for 8-9 October.

“We didn’t want to risk losing $25,000 if the expo had to be cancelled at the last minute, or restrictions put in place,” says Darrell.

The chamber is on the lookout for new business members and is also seeking someone with administration experience to take on a paid, part-time coordinator role to assist the volunteers.

Members meet once a month, currently via Zoom, and invite guest speakers to keep them informed about local business and council happenings.

Special guests at the July meeting were Goulburn Performing Arts Centre manager Raina Savage, who provided an update on the construction of the facility and preparation for the 2022 season, and Wakefield Park operations manager Dean Chapman, who gave an update on the raceway’s development application.

Wakefield Park has filed an appeal in the Land and Environment Court of NSW against Goulburn Mulwaree Council’s refusal of its current development application to improve spectator, customer and administrative facilities, and safeguard existing motorsport operations.

Darrell says the chamber supports the development and he spoke at a recent council meeting on behalf of the chamber about the impact the possible closure of the facility could have on the region.

“We are concerned about the potential loss of $30 million that is injected into our local economy each year,” he says. “That would be a huge blow.”

In an effort to attract more visitors to Goulburn, the chamber is working with photographer Tina Milson on the ‘Portraits on Main’ project which will see images and profiles of local community stalwarts, aged 50 years and above, hung in 140 shop windows in the town’s main street.

Darrell says given the current times, it’s more important than ever for the chamber to be involved in the community.

“This is the most active the chamber has been in a long time,” he says.

“We have deliberately set out to raise the profile of the chamber, contribute more, advocate for local businesses, and establish our relevance to not only business, but the whole community.”

To enter the Goulburn Business Awards and keep up to date with what’s happening in the Goulburn community, visit Goulburn Chamber of Commerce.

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