LISMORE BUSINESS AWARDS: Naarah Rodwell, pictured here with Lismore mayor Isaac Smith, was recognised as the 2019 Outstanding Business Leader for her work with Caspa Services.
LISMORE BUSINESS AWARDS: Naarah Rodwell, pictured here with Lismore mayor Isaac Smith, was recognised as the 2019 Outstanding Business Leader for her work with Caspa Services. Black Tie Photobooths

OPINION: Awards show business booms

BUSINESS is booming... is something you will rarely hear uttered around the town.

But I really have to ask why when the Lismore Business Awards on the weekend gave example after example of thriving, growing, innovative businesses.

We live in an instant response world where the negative stuff hits social media before the facts are available to digest. It can then spin wildly out of control and drag down a narrative, a person or a business.

Post flood we had to cry poor and yell from the treetops that we need help. But when does this all stop. When does regional Australia stop being about flood, drought and disaster?

When do we start making the individual personal decision to stop talking about feast vs famine, city vs country, the haves and have nots? It is just not that simple.

Some people attacked council when we lost our last major department store from the CBD last year, but not one I spoke to acknowledged that department stores left regional city CBDs close to 10 years ago.

Yes we have some empty shops in our CBD that we would all love to be full of exciting and innovative retailers, but none of us control the market forces that dictate business success.

Does anyone remember the Global Financial Crisis, where cities lost half their main streets? Not Lismore. We held on. We are different.

I had a great example of this last month when I spoke to the owner of The Fox's Place in Keen street. Sadly I was speaking to her because the business was closing, which no one wants to see, but statistics show the majority of small businesses don't last more than two years.

I was expecting to hear a down beat and dejected person, but instead I found someone who disappointed, but very clearly said, "I could not have even attempted to open this business anywhere else but Lismore.” Now the business lives on and you can purchase Fox's Palace products in other local retailers and this amazing entrepreneur is adapting to whatever challenges come next in her business.

Does our CBD have problems that need fixing? Yes, of course. Are we all working on fixing them? Yes I believe we are. Will we be successful? I bloody hope so as I don't see any other option other than to make our CBD a special place for locals and visitors.

I really think it is time we change the narrative of our city and start talking about successes. It doesn't mean we ignore the problems, but rather we focus on solutions as they will fix what ails us. Our cultural bent as a country to complain about how tough things are has served us well in past, but it does not represent the Australia or the Lismore I want to see in the future.

Congratulations to all the winners from the Lismore Business awards and to the big winner on the night, Business of the Year - Connect Accounts & Advisors. Growing from four staff to 25 in three years. Now there is a story worth telling.


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