Business to boom in 2015
IT'S boom time for business on the Southern Downs, as big development projects have the Warwick Chamber of Commerce predicting a stellar 2015 for the local economy.
With major projects including the Rose City Shoppingworld, Aldi Stanthorpe and Woolworths Service Station in Stanthorpe either commenced or due to commence in the new year, business activity is set for a major boost.
Chamber of Commerce president Bruce Partridge said the developments were a good sign that major national retailers see a future of growth for the Southern Downs.
"These companies do their homework and do not make decisions to expand lightly - these developments indicate confidence," he said,
"While it is early days for all these developments collectively I believe we will see a brighter employment scene for most of 2015, certainly in the second half."
The $40 million Rose City Shoppingworld expansion is set to bring hundreds of jobs, with no official start date announced for the project - while the Wellcamp Airport is expected to bring an economic boost to the region as it continues to expand its services.
An Economic Development report to be tabled at tomorrow's Southern Downs Regional Council meeting, reveals the council issued a number of licences for new food businesses in the past five months.
Fourteen food business licenses were issued on the Southern Downs between August and December, with another two rental accommodation licences also approved in that period.
The number of new business approvals outweighs that of closures, and while none were detailed in the report, the most significant in recent months was the closure of David Evans.
It's not all great news however, with the report detailing a high number of retail/commercial tenancies in Warwick (19) and Stanthorpe (six).
"The 19 emptry shops are a significant problem," Mr Partridge said.
"Many of them are older style presmises that really need to be upgraded to compete."
Another major bonus for the local economy is the recent announcment by APN to move newspaper printing operations in Toowoomba to the exisiting print-site in Warwick's Industrial Estate.
Mr Partridge said projects such a new broiler chicken farm at Pratten, which is set to employ more than 20 people, are great news for the economy.
"The recent announcement by APN to move the newspaper printing to Warwick will also increase employment for Warwick," he said.
"These employment rises alone will mean over $2 million extra wages."
The good news comes as confidence begins to show in initial Christmas shopping, with the management of Rose City Shoppingworld optimistic about Christmas shopping traffic.
"So far for Christmas it's looking positive," Centre Manager Jason Gard said.
"We're getting good results."
Businesses in the Rose City have also been recognised for their efforts in 2014 with numerous state and national award wins and nominations including The Cherry Tree's nomination for Australian Cafe of the Year and Clare's Hair Together and True Beauty's DeLorenzo Salon of the Year win.
While optimisim is abounds for 2015, the Chamber has cautioned that there is room for improvement on the economic front.
"The Chamber still believes there is room for more work to promote our region, we have lower commercial costs than surrounding regions and still enjoy great strategic position near major highways," Mr Partridge said.
"The Chamber is positive and believes that the council's Economic Development Unit has the right aims - we need to get behind them both from internal and external business leaders."
Eat it up
Food Business Licences granted between August-December:
Pai's Diner - Harvey Norman Centre Warwick
Corner Store Deli - Stanthorpe
St Mary's School Warwick
Glen Aplin Gardens B&B
Super Fried - Stanthorpe
Doc's Pies - Warwick
Allora Sports Club
The JOOCE Club - Stanthorpe
Cedar Cottage Preserves
Brass Monkey Brewhouse - Severnlea
Wally's Ice Cream Parlour
Brett A Hansen