Key findings from Shire’s Business Survey highlight challenges and opportunities
A suite of nine business surveys developed by the Shire of Augusta Margaret River has revealed some of the challenges and potential opportunities for the local business community. The surveys, which were open during June and July 2019, received 96 submissions from business owners and managers, equating to roughly 5% of businesses in the Shire.
The survey targeted a range of business sectors and locations, including agricultural, tourism, and accommodation businesses from Cowaramup, Margaret River, and Augusta. Survey questions related to businesses performance, size, and optimism; the degree of local ownership, procurement, and sales; environmentally friendly practices currently undertaken; ways to maximise the benefits of events in the region; and what role the Shire could play in assisting local businesses.
The survey found significant concern about the current state of retail, consistent with broader concern across Western Australia, and the opportunity for a “Buy Local” initiative. The Shire is currently collaborating with Transition Margaret River and the Margaret River Chamber of Commerce and Industry to implement an ongoing and consolidated campaign to encourage a “Choose Local” culture. Seasonality of tourism continues to be a challenge for local businesses, with a significant percentage of business revenue directly reliant upon visitors.
Responses to the agricultural survey highlighted a desire by farmers to be recognised for their contribution to the community. Farmers also questioned the compatibility of lifestyle blocks with farming enterprises, and a need for planning approvals to be issued in a timely way to support business development. The Shire is well underway in addressing these matters by way of the (draft) revised Local Planning Strategy, which includes increased exemptions for shed approvals, a presumption against subdivision of agricultural lots, and allowance of larger ancillary dwellings to provide intergenerational housing on farming properties.
Shire Sustainable Economy Officer Saul Cresswell said this survey is one step in an ongoing dialogue between the Shire and the business community.
“We are seeking to make sure the Shire’s impact on businesses is positive, and looking for opportunities to collaborate for greater benefit to the region’s community and environment,” he said.
“We look forward to identifying further opportunities to engage with local business owners and working collaboratively to ensure a sustainable local economy and vibrant and diverse community.”