I grew up in a small business family, which means that I have plenty of memories of joining Dad to do a quote, or ‘helping out’ with the jobs (which I’m pretty sure was me just getting in the way).
Dad ran a lattice and timber products business, and I remember the many conversations on the way to school, Dad campaigning to me on the importance of good customer service, or how important it is to always pay your bills on time because a late payment means cash-flow pain.
These are the struggles of the many small business operators across our City, a sector that makes up the majority of Mandurah’s economic activity.
A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending the Alcoa Peel Business Awards, hosted by the incredible team at the Peel Chamber of Commerce.
It was a great night, and an opportunity to really acknowledge those in our community who have put everything on the line to provide their product or service to us.
It was great to hear the success stories, and show our appreciation, but what I found most inspiring was the messages that came through in so many of the speeches by the operators; the triumphs and tribulations, and the overwhelming sense that this is much more about contributing to our community as it is a means of creating an income for themselves.
I left that evening, having arrived already with a strong appreciation of our business community, in awe of their efforts, resilience and strength. It also gave cause to reflect on what we’re doing as a community to support local business.
I’m really proud of our Council for some great work we’ve been started in this space, such as pumping new spending into the regeneration of our City Centre to support our hospitality and tourism operators, restructuring our partnerships with key organisations like the Peel Chamber and MAPTO so that they can enhance the great work they’re doing to support business, making big changes to our tendering rules so that local business gets a 10% advantage over suppliers from outside of Mandurah which will significantly increase the percentage of our spend that stays local, and looking for new ways to build pathways for young people so that our future workforce are capable and ready for work.
These are just a few examples of how we’re trying to do our bit to support local, but with that being said, the best thing we can do as a community is to prioritise our own spending so it stays in our local economy. I admire the courage of our business community, and I’m grateful for their contribution to our City.
Rhys Williams is City of Mandurah mayor.