'Get serious about future of business'
PRESSURE is being put on council to invest in a plan to support local businesses well into the future, particularly in Palmerin Street.
Warwick Chamber of Commerce president David Littleproud said our city needed to broaden economically and focus on bringing skilled workers to our region.
"We are putting pressure on council to get serious, to commit the resources and make a clear strategy," Mr Littleproud said.
"The chamber suggests bringing people here that experience our lifestyle and want to do commerce here."
The push comes as locals comment on several long-term vacant premises in the CBD, with the Daily News yesterday asking readers through Facebook which retail outlets they would most like to see in the Rose City.
The top three picks were K-mart, a bowling alley and a Best and Less, perhaps a reflection of the economic times and a particular need for more outlets for local young people.
Mr Littleproud said as far as the overall commercial future of Warwick was concerned, the Chamber of Commerce believed it was time to use the research from a business survey that had already been conducted.
"What the Warwick chamber is asking for now, is action on a strategy with a way forward," he said.
"Council needs to commit to some action.
"The reality is that it will take a long strategic plan for a broader economic base in the community - it takes time and commitment.
"The market will always dictate new shops and services... it's really something that can only be evident as time goes on."
Southern Downs Mayor Peter Blundell said the council was still working out a specific direction for the Southern Downs plan.
"One of those things that we are looking to work out exactly is what the best plan of attack is for revitalising our economy," he said.
"Given the difficult time of droughts and floods for a long period of years, there is no doubt that the economy has taken a few hits.
"We do have some good opportunities to pursue if you look at logistics and transport hubs and centres, light manufacturing, value adding and tourism.
"We are having a number of meetings, we intend to continue those meetings and are taking action.
"At this stage, developing close working relationships are most important."
With much local commentary in recent times around the topic of the number of cafes and other eateries in town, one such business owner has made the tough decision to shift towns.
After four years serving customers coffee and home-cooked food, Lorraine Dent is relocating Lorraine's Breakfast Lunch and Coffee to Allora.
Mrs Dent said she felt like the business needed to expand, and they had limited space at the Warwick store.
"I've got no problem with the competition," she said.
"But I also just can't sit and wait for Jumpers and Jazz every year.
"Rent, power and wages have all gone up."
Mussels Restaurant owner Fred Moncada said it was a "shame" to see another local business closing.
On the other hand, Mr Moncada said there was too much of the one thing, which is leading to business failures.
"There are too many cafes in Warwick... the pie is only so big," he said.
Mr Moncada is also calling for council to initiate a plan of action for businesses now.
"Competition is good for everyone but there is a fine line between that and saturation... Warwick has crossed that line," he said.
"There needs to be a plan by council to keep what we have strong and vibrant, and a survey of local people to ask what Warwick needs."