Now could be the "perfect time" to reboot a chamber of commerce for Warrnambool with the city council saying it is keen to hear from businesses about the idea.
An attempt was made to reboot a chamber of commerce-type organisation for Warrnambool in recent years but it fell over during the pandemic, which hit the business community hard.
On a visit to the south-west last month, Victoria's small business commissioner Lynda McAlary-Smith said Warrnambool would miss out if it didn't have a chamber of commerce.
She urged businesses to get together and also offered to help support the establishment of a chamber of commerce in the city.
While Ms McAlary-Smith said it was not the council's role to set up a chamber of commerce, a council spokesman said its economic development unit was always interested to hear from people with ideas and passion to potentially get involved in leadership.
"Council will support this where possible," the spokesman said.
"An active business chamber is identified as a gap in our city's offering to assist with advocacy and promotion of the city.
"Typically the formation of chambers of commerce or representative business groups is initiated by the business community."
Ms McAlary-Smith said a chamber of commerce would give Warrnambool businesses a strong voice to the council and on the new alliance of regional chambers of commerce.
"You don't want Warrnambool to be left out because then government will consult with the regional chamber alliance because it's efficient and they feel like they are talking to the regions," she said.
"And if Warrnambool doesn't have one then they're missing out."
Deputy mayor Debbie Arnott, who was speaking as a business owner and not as a councillor, said there were not too many regional cities that didn't have chamber of commerce and Warrnambool needed one.
She said it was needed to provide a pathway not just to the council, but to funding sources.
It would also have advocacy benefits, be of help to new businesses as well as promote the area.
"But, of course the stumbling block, as always, is for people to really commit and get onboard," she said.
One of the biggest issues was always how it was funded, and Warrnambool would need to get the model right.
"There's no doubt that council would like there to be a chamber of commerce or a business representative group," she said.
"It is something that is really required and maybe now is the perfect time to get something up but it's getting the correct model, it's getting the funding and it's getting the business owners."
She said any group would need to cover all areas of Warrnambool business - from tourism to industrial, retail and small business.
"It's got to be across the board - a good representation to make it really viable."
"It's not just the CBD, it's all business."
Former business owner Josh Bermingham said there had been support from businesses before the pandemic for a representative group but it was tough to get it up and running.
Called Your Warrnambool Business and Tourism, he said it was in the process of becoming a chamber of commerce but it became a casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Once COVID then hit, people needed to focus on individual businesses rather than Warrnambool as a whole," he said.
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