As promised, my thoughts to the questions I myself posed here a week or so ago. While I know a lot of these questions are not direct council responsibility they were questions that came up in a Small Business Group meeting and felt they were worth discussion.
By Nikki Williams
Do I have all the answers absolutely not, however I don’t believe we find answers to our towns issues by hiring a city consultant.
We need to get off our buts and speak the people on the groundWhat are your plans for the CBD? Are you happy with where it is right now? If not what are your plans to improve it?
I want to see our city centre become a hive of activity to do I believe we need living and accommodation in the CBD and we need to create activities that draw people to town- The Cex project is a great start and I hope with its success it will encourage those building owners leaving their buildings to sit empty and fall apart, to sell to developers who will hopefully build more like the Cex.
Since writing these questions I have reached out to and had a meeting with the Cex executive and have a desire as a councillor to maintain a hands on involvement with the CBD stakeholders.
- We have a great space in the city square to bring activities, Markets, night time markets weekend markets of all different kinds a monthly night traders market where all stores can put tables and racks out to promote sales stock, live music busking festivals ect. But we can’t just keep spending money changing pavers every 10 years thinking that will fix the problem. As a store owner myself the last ‘upgrade’ to the city square almost choked my and many others business and for what?
- New white pavers that are now filthy and some fairy lights… the expensive fixer uppers are a waste of money we need vision that extends over 20 years. Do it once and do it well.-
- Empty shops, while we can’t force shop owners to fill their shops what we can do is encourage development by making our town more attractive to developers that will hopefully come in and knock some of these run down buildings down and rebuild.
- Trading hours! This is a big one. Trading hours need to be consistent. Too many stores and restaurants are closed on weekends. Many Kitchens are closing by 2pm. If we want people to come we have to show up and put in the work. Especially Council owned leases and that goes for all areas of Coffs. Council leases should state mandatory trading hours that benefit the needs of our town
- The city centre should be run just like a shopping centre without a roof. A centre manager for this area that can couple as a marketing manager would be beneficial
- We need to stop thinking the Park Beach Plaza (PBP) is the problem. It isn’t. For Coffs to thrive all areas need to thrive. The PBP brings big nationals which are important many of which would not be here if it wasn’t for PBP.
- Instead Capitalise on what the CBD has to offer which is outdoor boutique shopping outdoor dining and an Urban feel yet so close to great parkland in Brelsford Park. Laneways with great graffiti art that are the perfect place for small hole in the wall bars, flower markets, coffee shops etc rents are lower and more manageable making these key spots for new ideas. Who does this great? Melbourne! Let’s model them.
- Can we put bollards up at night to stop traffic in riding lane making it safe for those entering bars? What are the impediments to this and how can we work through themHow will you support young entrepreneurs wanting to open businesses in Coffs? Will you personally frequent them? If so will you promote them? If so HOW? It’s no secret opening up in a new business is a tough and often a risk especially for the younger generation that don’t have the money and experience age can often bring. Those with the courage to do it should be congratulated and supported. While it’s not a Council’s direct responsibility to assist with small businesses it is our responsibility to ensure our city thrives and small business is the backbone to that.
- Can we create a roll of a start up small business consultant, to offer advice and support? Or reach out to those more experienced in our business community to offer their time?
- Councillors should be frequenting all businesses. Getting to know every member of this community. Ask them how trading is, ask them what they think we can do better, to help them do better.
- Let’s have the more nonofficial council meetings in our community giving businesses our business. –
- Social media is big we need to share new spaces post about who they are and what they have to offer not just on council pages but our own personal pagesWill you consult with the younger generations in regards to entertainment? Will you actively seek answers to why musicians that we want and music festivals are bypassing Coffs leaving us to travel and spend our money is Port Macquarie Armidale Lennox head etc? If yes where will you look to find those answers? A Big Yes! But we need to be asking the right people.
- Reach out to all local event and music promoters. Ask them what has been successful in other towns not by getting them to fill out a 10 page survey actually sit down with them and ask their opinion. The people doing the jobs know more than anyone else. –
- Port Macquarie has an annual festival of the sun it sold out last year in 4 hrs, 3 day music, comedy and camping festival spread out along the water. It’s even BYO… can you imagine being allowed to do that in Coffs? How much economy does I generate? I’m working right now on finding that figure out. –
- The annual Broadbeach Blues festival is on this weekend. A festival spread across so many venues supporting many artists and businesses. I have reached out to the marketing manager of this and am speaking to her early this week to find out what economy it brings to town –
- Work with our wineries to capitalise on these unique spaces such as Peterson’s in Armidale have, we have award winning wineries that could be a huge tourist attraction we should be making them work. CCO Editor – Here! Here! As opposed to trying to destroy them as seems to be the case with Two Tails for example IMO?
- Work with licensing are our laws stricter than elsewhere? And if so why?
- Work with promoters to offer transport ect and assist them to ensure these festivals are financially viable. Would you encourage and initiate mentoring programs, using our more experienced successful business owners to engage those with ideas and dreams yet lacking the experience and business knowledge to get those dreams out of their heads and off the ground?
- Likewise engage the younger generations to work with our older generations and help them understand us and navigate this ever changing online world? Would this be a way to encourage a more inclusive community and more understanding and respect for each generation and demographics needs? To be honest this question came from a video someone shared with me about young and old mentoring each other. It was really interesting and stuck a cord with me and so was really interested to hear others thoughts.
- Since writing these questions it has been put on the back burner as I’ve had many other things demanding immediate priority however I believe mutual respect and understanding of needs across all generations is important and a very interesting and worthwhile concept to explore.
- Do you feel Coffs has a huge decline in night time economy? If yes, is changing this important to you? – We need a performance space. It should have been done years ago
- We have a Uni here yet we have such limited options for these young adults to go at night. Why do nightclubs not work here? Why is our town completely dead after midnight when 20 years ago the streets were packed? I am speaking with one nightclub owner this week just to ask his thoughts and plan to contact other licensed premises to also ask their opinion on the nightlife scene.
- Consult with police and licensing. What are the impediments? Do you believe Coffs Harbour has enough to offer our teens and young adults to keep them inspired and fulfilled. If not what do you propose for this demographic? Nurture and appreciate our role models
- Young successful business owners, young national and world level athletes, talented artists, dancers, musicians, brilliant minds. The Coffs Coast has an abundance. We need to harness these people get them in schools sharing their stories. Give them the recognition they deserve by promoting their achievements – Give them the spaces they deserve to compete with the kids in big cities- And in turn work with them and ask them to give back by encouraging and mentoring those that look up to themAre you aware of the unique issues the younger generation faces in today’s world?
- What do you believe are the biggest challenges we face? My key issue here is housing.
- First home buyers in a market more inflated than ever before. This is a huge issue and needs immediate action. We need to get infrastructure into land zoned residential and we need to do it today! Supply and demand. The only way to bring prices down is to have more supply. We have hectares of land able to be developed. To make this land viable and cost effective to developers we need to get sewer and water in there. We need to bring down the cost of development.
- Gone are the days it is safe to send our young kids outside until the lights go out. We need more play areas for young families. The jetty? We don’t even have a decent park, kids wet play area etc or even any shade. Brelsford Park I love the skate park and also the kids park. I’d love to see a kids bike park in that space too. Our streets are busier than ever it’s getting harder to teach kids to ride bikes, a common skill that is so important especially moving into a more environmentally conscious world. There is an incredible kids bike park in Sydney that has working traffic lights road signs etc something like this would be so great for coffs and it’s young families.
- The cost of living is soaring and more families than ever before have both parents working full time, we are the generation that doesn’t have time for processes long winded surveys and committees. As councillors I believe we should be the work horse for these people. Hear their thoughts wants and needs and do the offical leg work for them.
Note: This post was specifically related to questions from a small biz networking group so had a heavy city centre focus however it is definitely not my only focus
Nikki is running for Council on a ticket with Rodger Pryce, Tegan Swan and John Lardner.
CCO encourages other CHCC candidates to respond or send in their own thoughts. This piece was originally published at the Coffs Coast Independent News Facebook site on Friday 21 May. Published here with permission.
As always we encourage our readers to respond vi comments that will be published once moderated.