Ballina is doing business differently, better
THERE is a takeaway message from the coronavirus pandemic that is a positive for the Ballina business community, says president of the Ballina Chamber of Commerce, Glenn Costello.
Mr Costello said the business community was well-placed to get through the restrictions in place due to the pandemic, and the chamber itself was looking at ways it can support the kick-start after the shutdowns are relaxed.
But he said the hospitality industry in Ballina was an example of how business had changed because of the forced lockdown - and often that change was for the better.
The feature is the offering of takeaway meals.
"A lot of businesses have lifted their way of doing business," he said.
"And it's more with the way they are set up like offering takeaway meals - even restaurants that didn't do takeaway meals before.
"Even the clubs and pubs are offering takeaway."
He did say the shutdowns have been tough, but the government support through things like JobKeeper, had made a difference to the outlook.
"That's allowed businesses to keep staff on and do other projects," he said.
The last major challenge the Ballina business community faced was the opening of the Ballina bypass in 2011, which took highway traffic away from the CBD.
That left the Ballina CBD with many empty shops as businesses didn't survive.
But Mr Costello said he didn't think the COVID-19 pandemic would have the same effect.
"This is completely different to the Ballina bypass (opening)," he said.
"Pre-bypass, we (the chamber) told the businesses what to expect, but some weren't listening and they were affected.
"But for this pandemic, businesses are obviously well aware of it, and the way they're doing business has had to change, and for the better.
"I think there will be so many opportunities for businesses to change the way they do things, like offering takeaway (meals)."
Mr Costello also is the board of Daisi Services supporting people with disabilities, the disadvantaged and the aged.
He said Daisi had taken the opportunity to move to a smaller office in Ballina during the pandemic as some of the staff now prefer to work from home - a change motivated by the pandemic.
He said the new office space was vacated by another business which also had changed its operation to now be based at home.
Mr Costello said business owners are "ready to get back into it (work), if they haven't already restarted."
He said there was "buzz" in the air.
Mr Costello said he knew of some instances where landlords had offered business tenants some discounts on their rent during the pandemic, but he didn't believe that was very widespread.