Presidents Report 2017 – 2018

NARRABRI AND DISTRICT CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
PRESIDENTS REPORT 2017 – 2018
3/4/18

 
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2018 has been yet another extremely busy and challenging year for the Chamber, our members and the wider community. Chamber membership is now at a record high of in excess of around 200 members (invoices late going out can’t quote final financials) which places our Chamber at the very top of chambers for similar size communities. Our upward trend is very pleasing.

Government figures still include Narrabri Shire as one of only three Growth Centres in the Northern Inland. These include Tamworth, Inverell and Narrabri. There is a glaring common factor in each of these centres which appears to be the catalyst for becoming a Growth Centre. This factor is diversity. It is clear that in order to achieve healthy ongoing growth in rural communities we must secure and promote diversity in industry and as a matter of urgency seriously explore the value adding of local product here on site.
Chamber has been strongly involved with the investigation into the Inland Rail project and the possible establishment of an Intermodal Industrial Hub in Narrabri. Should this project be realised the flow on to the Narrabri business and wider community will be highly significant.
Employment figures per industry for Narrabri Shire have taken a dramatic turn over the past 12 months and must be seriously taken note of. The industry employing the largest number of workers in the Narrabri Shire community is now the mining sector. Mining at 1237 employees and 18.9% of total employment for our Shire has now replaced Agriculture at 1137 employees and 17.4%. These figures are as of December 2017. It could be reasonably argued that the gap is even greater now. I can confidently predict that this gap will rapidly increase for the foreseeable future. Even more dramatic is the change to the Output Figure by industry for Narrabri Shire. For the first time ever Agriculture at $353.665M and 12.8% of our total output has been replaced as our number one output industry by our Mining Industry at $1.38B and 41.2% of our total output.

The combined total output of all industries in our Shire is now at an incredible $2.76B.
It is critical to develop a Business Action Plan to align with these figures.
Unemployment figures for Narrabri Shire sit at 5.6%. However, youth unemployment is estimated to be between 12% and 15%.

I have been heavily involved in the establishment of a Country University Site in Narrabri. My 12 year fight to establish such a centre in Narrabri has stood me in good stead and my much accumulated information on the subject as well as the establishment of quality supporters and contacts has allowed me to represent Chamber at a high level. The locally developed AGCAP (Agribusiness Careers and Professions) initiative has been highly successful and is now set to be introduced state wide. AGCAP is seen as a critical “nursery” for the Country Universities development.

The next twelve months will see a requirement for an even greater level of member involvement with Chamber activities. At this point I would sincerely like to thank the small but solid group of outstanding members who are always on hand to help out. You need to know that nothing can happen without you.

My Presidents Report this time last year stated… with some luck, we will have an official decision of the Santos Environmental Impact Study for the development of the CSG industry in Narrabri. If approval is given, we will see a welcome increase in business activity for many of our members.
Clearly and unfortunately this has not happened. All indications now point to a decision prior to the end of this year.

Coal prices are much better than this time last year with demand for our local clean coal remaining solid. This of course all goes well for our local resources industries and has necessitated the lodgement of an application for expansion at Narrabri Coal.

I remain the Independent Chair of the Narrabri Coal CCC.
Our 2017 Business Awards have been described as the “best yet”. We have been able to secure the same MC for this year with the event taking place on the 8th of September.
You can be proud that your Chamber was given the honour of being awarded Narrabri Shire Australia Day Community Event 2017. What an outstanding outcome given the quality of the many other community events staged in 2017.
The 2017 Christmas Street Carnival saw yet an even bigger revamp with the inclusion of specialist entertainment and community activities which resulted in an increased number of attendees. 2017 was also the first to take place since the new main street development. Unfortunately the power supply in the new median strip was found to be substandard which resulted in the inability for all 240 volt attractions to operate satisfactorily. This caused a large loss of crowd way too early. Investigations are currently underway to explore the staging of this year’s event at Collins Park.
Our large investment in the Narrabri Chamber Christmas Tree continues to be appreciated by our community. A huge thanks must go to Jenny Gale and her dedicated team of helpers who never fail to ensure that our tree is in place and looking fantastic every year. However, there appears to be some confusion in the community regarding who owns and presents this wonderful spectacular every year.
I continue to represent Chamber at the monthly CSG CCC meetings which give Chamber a voice in this very important forum.

2018 will see free face to face Business Support opportunities on offer to all members due to an agreement secured with Derek Tink at Nortec.
The new Chamber website has seen great advances and is fast approaching the interactive stage. I expect to see this function operational within 4 months.
Your Chamber instigated and conducted a public meeting to address perceived issues with Narrabri High School. This meeting attracted a huge interested public gathering of 115 people. As a result of this meeting, Chamber formed the Narrabri High School Advisory Group which meets on an “as needed” basis.
The group has developed a strong productive partnership with NHS and its leaders.

I would like to thank the executive for their hard work and support through 2017-2018. In particular I would like to acknowledge the outstanding support as always given by my Deputy Ian.
I thank you for the opportunity to represent you in 2017 – 2018 and look forward in high anticipation to the next year for Narrabri and District Chamber of Commerce.
Yours Sincerely.

Russell STEWART
President Narrabri and District Chamber of Commerce