AS the oldest and longest standing chamber on the Gold Coast, the Southport Chamber of Commerce has been a voice for local businesses since founded on April 23, 1912, by inaugural president Edward Fass.

Edward’s vision for Southport is one I’m proud to still stand behind today – 109 years later – which is by ensuring a strong business environment, the community as a whole will prosper and develop.

Fast forward to 2021, and I’m pleased to announce the Southport chamber’s renewed strategy has been endorsed by the current elected board and will focus on three pillars: to inform, advocate and connect.

We seek to deliver on these aims by keeping local businesses up to date and informed with local activities and community issues, offering a variety of networking nights, breakfasts and lunches with guest speakers and VIPs, and working with all three levels of government as a voice for the Southport community and advocate for local issues.

With 250 members, the Southport Chamber of Commerce has never been stronger – or more relevant. It has been called upon extensively in the past 18 months to provide information and support for businesses around the impact of Covid-19 and the restrictions and lockdowns. This has seen us collaborating with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland and the other Gold Coast chambers to ensure the voice of business is heard. The Southport chamber has been represented on the City Heart Taskforce for the past year and this has kept the importance of Southport as the CBD in the spotlight.

Most recent data from CCIQ released in August for the previous quarter shows confidence in the Queensland economy among Gold Coast businesses for the next 12 months dropping by 5.4 points, positioning the Gold Coast region as the lowest in the state for business confidence. In short, the June quarter’s results indicate that Gold Coast’s economic recovery is far from assured

– and we know our advocacy is far from over.

The chamber’s long-term vision for Southport is to create a vibrant, urban CB&LD (Central Business and Living District) worthy of the sixth-largest and fastestgrowing city in Australia. To achieve this vision, we know a renewed planning scheme is needed to continually attract businesses to the CBD and ensure our strong business community evolves over the next 109 years and beyond.

We need consistent, active support from the City of Gold Coast, the Queensland state government and federal government to create this intentional CBD growth plan, and we look forward to working with all three levels of government to achieve this vision.

Ian Kennedy is president of the Southport Chamber of Commerce and a City Heart Taskforce executive member.

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