BASS Coast Shire Council wants to bolster Wonthaggi’s reputation as a regional centre, and although there’s a real estate boom in the old mining town, new housing estates are still years away.
Small businesses continue to play a crucial part in the town’s economy.
But how are they performing? Is there a ‘boom’ in the retail and food sectors too? Will they see the benefits of almost $150m in upcoming projects, including the new school and hospital upgrades?
Barbara Muller from Garden of Thoughts, on Graham Street in Wonthaggi, says if business continues to increase – she’ll need to put on extra staff next year.
“It hasn’t been a boom, but we’re doing OK,” she said.
“When I’m talking to suppliers, they’re rapt that we’re doing so well because a lot of regional stores aren’t.”
Barbara says she meets at least one person a week who’s recently moved to the area.
“They might pick up a cushion or plan to buy something for their new house.
“We’re seeing a lot of that, so I think that’ll be great for the area.”
At their previous store across the street, she said they kept testing the waters and then took a leap of faith.
“We felt there was a need for this,” she said at their larger store.
“We find people don’t want to buy these types of products online.
“Some people will look online to work out what they want, and then they want to come in and look at the size and feel it.”
Joanne Mesch of Julie Wade says growth’s plateaued over the past few years.
“Our age generally don’t go online, but it’s just stayed the same.
“If the increase has been there, it wouldn’t have been any more than five per cent.
“We’re definitely not booming. Just normal run-of-the-mill.”
She said they haven’t put on any extra staff.
“It does get busier during summer with the tourists, but winter turns over faster.
“That’s just the industry we’re in; everyone knows it’s going to be cold. But are we guaranteed a hot summer? Who knows?”
The $146 million in projects include the $115m Wonthaggi Hospital redevelopment and $31m for new Wonthaggi Secondary College campus.
Wonthaggi on an upward curve