The decision on Tuesday by the Reserve Bank to keep a hold on interest rates has been received with mixed reviews, however CEO of the Illawarra Business Chamber is remaining positive.

CEO for the Illawarra Business Chamber, Mike Leask, believes that business in the Illawarra is suffering from a case of “underlying pessimism” and that a recent survey conducted by the Chamber revealed less positive attitudes towards the industry.

“Our surveys have seen businesses in the Illawarra taking a more pessimistic outlook at the moment”
With interest rates holding steady at 4.25%, Mr Leask believe that this is a good result, however small businesses are concerned that interest rates will rise in the future. However there are pockets of businesses around the Illawarra that are overcoming the current economic climate.

“Some parts are doing extremely well especially those businesses providing support to government and in the health sector”

Among the businesses sectors manufacturing and retail sectors are particularly finding the current economic conditions difficult. Mr Leask attributes this to the high Australian dollar and disposable incomes of the public.

Mr Leask emphasises the need to focus on the future and that change can create a whole range of new opportunities for small businesses in particular.

“In the future we can see a lot of changes in our heavy industry, a lot of structural change but change creates opportunities especially for small busineses. We need to stay positive and to start looking to where to make differences”

Mr Leask says that the RBAs macro policy is being effecting people at a micro level and would like to see some changes in order to help those who may be struggling.

“I’d like to reduction in interest rates or some assistance to reduce the Australia dollar to help those particularly in manufacturing”

Wollongong CBD is looking to be in good shape with a number of new initiatives in the pipeline for the retail centre.

City Centre Revitalisation Manager, Mark Grimson, believes the CBD is doing above average compared to other regions.

“ We are performing reasonably well, it is definitely an exciting time for the city centre”

Mr Grimson has said that the recent green light by council for the free Wi-Fi from the Wollongong Railway Station to the Crown Street Mall will help assist businesses in getting consumers into the mall.
The Council is also planning a number of other projects to help revitalise the centre including a 14 million dollar refurbishment to the mall beginning approximately this time next year.

Mr Grimson says that while the retail sector is a tough and difficult environment the Council is aiming to bring the energy back into the CBD.

“There is a lot of potential at the moment, there is a lot of potential for new businesses and bring vibrancy into the CBD”

Words: Courtney Howe

On hold: Business is being urged to stay positive as the RBA keeps rates on hold

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