A POWERFUL marketing campaign bankrolled by a contentious new levy could be the first stepping stone to solving the city’s commercial woes, levy supporters say.
As a rift develops between businesses for and against the levy, supporters argue it will bolster Warrnambool’s flatlining retail and profile.
Angry traders have rallied against the levy this week, with the newly-formed Warrnambool Traders Action Group (WTAG) warning it will squeeze dollars out of hard-hit stores.
Those in favour are mounting their case for the council-enforced subsidy, now given the green light by city council for public consultation and a business ballot.
Optus Shop franchisee Ellie Read said the levy would offer good value for money in marketing campaign and restore morale among store owners.
“I don’t feel like there’s a lot of pride left in Warrnambool,” Ms Read told The Standard.
The Commerce Warrnambool proposal could see traders and retailers paying anywhere between $300 and $500 a year, with a few larger businesses paying $5000.
Ms Read estimated the levy in its proposed form would cost her about $440.
“That’s roughly $1.26 a day.
“If I spent $440 on marketing how much am I going to get in value … probably nothing.
“If we all pull in together we could do some amazing campaigns.”
She said the money could finance a shop local campaign and advertising blitz around the state to draw people into Warrnambool.
“I don’t see a shop local campaign anywhere.”
Warrnambool KFC franchisee Marie Bird acknowledged while franchise businesses had extra support and resources, it was because they had formed their own franchise business associations in the first place.
“It could be the stepping stone towards driving more business and what’s the alternative … nothing?” Ms Bird said.
“Small traders don’t have a voice in council because they are not represented.
“I feel if the traders were to band together we could achieve a lot more.”
Best Western Tudor Motor Inn owner Barbara Porter said many visitors had little knowledge about the profile or size of Warrnambool.
“People come in and they’re surprised how big Warrnambool is. They know more about Port Fairy than they do about Warrnambool,” Ms Porter said.
“I think it’s all just flat … we’re the only town that doesn’t have a chamber of commerce.”