“WHAT a pleasure it is to see a beautiful set of numbers.”
It was with those words that Bass Coast Shire Councillor, Les Larke, appraised the balance sheet of the Wonthaggi Business and Tourism Association (WBTA) at its annual general meeting last Tuesday night.
And he liked what he saw; a turnover of more than $100,000, expenditure of $76,764 and net earnings of $25,238 with much of the expenditure going into a highly successful third Wonthaggi Street Festival.
He should know.
Cr Larke has often been a critic of the shire’s approach to its budget but not so the Wonthaggi Business Association’s financial statement for the year to the end of May as presented by out-going treasurer Jenny Garnham.
“We’re looking good, we’re financial which is really good,” said Jenny as she handed over the books to a new treasurer, Emma Demunk.
It hasn’t always been that way.
Some years ago, the WBTA was struggling with its commitment to the business and tourism partnership, membership support was down and the balance sheet was in a parlous state.
But several key changes have brought about a dramatic change in the association’s fortunes.
Key among them would be the appointment of local bakery owner, Dee Connell, to the role of president, ably assisted by custom print business operator Terry Earl and Jenny Garnham, a Wonthaggi Solicitor, together with a hard-working committee.
They’ve revitalised the association by putting it on its own two feet again, establishing a highly productive partnership with Artspace and the shire to run the Centenary Tourism Centre, launched the street festival and advocated strongly with the shire and government for improvements in and around Wonthaggi.
As revealed at last week’s AGM, the visitor centre gallery partnership has been a very useful money spinner, and as Mrs Connell said last Tuesday, the street festival was the ideal way to put funds earned there back into the community.
Mrs Connell reported on a very busy year of activities, so much so that she will be stepping back into the role of street festival director this coming year with Graham Fitton taking over in the main leadership role.
But he’s no newcomer to the work of the association having worked on a strategic plan for the group and a business survey which will see the workload more evenly spread and the association more focused on members’ needs.
Graham spoke about “a mandate for change” when he took over the role, based on the agreed recommendations coming out of the strategic plan which will include more networking opportunities for members.
“We’ll have bi-monthly members nights at which we’ll promote business-to-business support and pick up the strong theme of buy local,” he said.
“We also want the association to be a strong voice to the council on behalf of the members.”
It’s clear that attracting more members will be a focus and taking up leadership in that area is Terry Earl as the new membership coordinator.
In fact, everyone on the committee will have a role with Graham Fitton stressing there would be less work for each individual but more achieved as a group.
The association intends to update its website and improve its marketing of Wonthaggi.
Membership fees were held firm for the year at $200 per business or $60 for community groups.
The Wonthaggi Business and Tourism Association is one of the main advocacy groups in the town and it looks set to continue that way with a strong committee appointed at last week’s AGM.