DON’T miss the coal ship. That’s the message from Singleton Chamber of Commerce and Industry and one they will be pushing hard in 2014.
Newly elected chamber president, Ryan Fitzpatrick, firmly believes many local businesses are missing opportunities within the coal industry just through a lack of understanding of what we have here in the region.
It is this lack of understanding that Mr Fitzpatrick intends to address with a new charter within the chamber aimed directly at assisting local businesses to tap into what he sees as an opportunity the Hunter is missing, in most cases completely.
His actions and that of the fellow executive are spurred on by a disappointing turnout at last year’s NSW Business Chamber Skyboard event aimed at small to medium sized businesses.
“I attended that event and couldn’t believe the poor attendance, the event was organised for SMEs (small to medium enterprises) and that’s everybody, it got me thinking that there is an opportunity to make business owners realise what we’ve got here and how, by working together, we can benefit everyone, not just individual businesses, but everyone,” Mr Fitzpatrick said this week.
“A strong local economy benefits everyone, it provides employment, it attracts experience and skill and gives our young people a strong, positive future.”
“There is no way Singleton and the broader Hunter region is taking advantage of what the mining industry is giving us now, this is an opportunity to set this town up for life after mining.”
Mr Fitzpatrick has been on the Hunter Business Centre Board for eight years and is now retired due to work commitments but continues to be on the Enterprise Connect Coal Panel, an organisation that assists SMEs to tap into the business opportunities coal provides.
“The biggest hurdle facing businesses is they don’t know how to communicate with the coal industry, they don’t understand the industry and where their business might fit in,” he said.
He said the coal industry was a very different customer, unlike any other and certainly won’t come knocking on the door.
“There is the government and there’s the industry and then there is this huge gap in between and we aim to fill that gap, provide that connection between these two big players and those doing business.”
Beginning this process is next Tuesday’s monthly Chamber of Commerce meeting which will be held on the Warkworth Mt Thorley Mine site.
There will be an address by the mine’s manager Cam Halfpenny and there will be a register that business operators can express interest in a tour of the mine.
“This is about opening up the dialogue and I admit, I am very passionate about this, I know what the mining industry has the potential to do for this town, it is not about me, it is about every single business in Singleton,” he said.
“It is a change in focus for the chamber, I know that, but let’s face it, the industry is on our doorstep and we should be doing every single thing we can to make the most of the opportunity it provides and I am not talking about direct jobs, I’m talking about opportunities for everyone.”
To attend next Tuesday’s meeting email firstname.lastname@example.org today.
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