A year in review

It’s been just over a year since the new committee was elected to the Merimbula Chamber of Commerce and with the AGM coming up soon, it is a good time to look back at the last year and reflect on what we have been able to achieve.

Obviously 2020 has thrown up some huge challenges, first with the Bushfires and then with Covid, but your committee have continued to work tirelessly for our members and local business.

We have compiled a list of everything we have done over the past year, some of these might seem small, and others are major achievements but they all add up to a lot of effort from a committee that are passionate about helping our local community and see it prosper.

You may also notice that we have some pretty major events on the Horizon and which we have secured funding for including our Collective Retail store, the Essence, a Sea Change Expo and a Town Summit. All of these are medium to long term projects that focus on improving our economic development well in to the future.

We will release more information on these events as they come to hand, but rest assured we are working hard for our community and will continue to push ahead, despite all the challenges.

September 2019




  • Helped secure a spot for Raging Bull surf shop
  • Temporary opening of the old Woolworths underground Car park over Christmas holidays
  • New Logo for chamber
  • Merimbula’s  biggest Christmas Tree and decoration program
  • Pre-Christmas shopping day with Santa and Celebrations (Reported as a Bumper day)
  • Local Radio Ad campaign promoting Merimbula Shopping
  • Set up Merimbula’s Naught Elves shopping campaign and hunt
  • Christmas Drinks for members with free drinks and food in the courtyard

January 2020

  • Delivered extensive information to business and community during the height of the fires to ensure people had important information at hand
  • Survey of business to measure the effects on business, used this advocated tirelessly for the business community in the recovery process including
    • Getting the Princess Hwy to Victoria opened as soon as possible
    • Meetings with countless politicians and Government departments
    • Lots of interviews, press releases  and new stories bringing attention to the problem
  • Numerous meetings with BVSC to directly request the creation of 2 new positions from Bushfire Funding at a total cost of $190,000
    • Shire Wide Event Co-Ordinator – Commenced May 2020
    • Bushfire Recovery Co-Ordinator – Commenced August 2020


  • Advocated and achieved Rate Reductions from BVSC
  • Developed relationships with other community bodies outside of the area that wanted to assist such as Rotary Clubs in Sydney
  • Sent request to local landlords asking them to consider rental holidays for tenants
  • Built relationship with Business Council of Australia
    • Gave out 20 x $500 ($10,000) vouchers to members businesses to support them with services
    • A further $20,000 worth of vouchers were handed out through other businesses in the shire
  • Held public forum to create a Business Strategy for 2020 and beyond
  • Establish the Bushfire Recovery Sub Committee
    • Offer free Mental health counselling service
  • Employed Part time support staff person
  • Developed new website for Chamber valued at around $10k
    • Added all members business to directory
    • Created gift vouchers online for every members – received over $2000 in sales to support local businesses
    • Provided all members businesses the opportunity to have a FREE online shop
    • Connected business to other online shopping platforms such as Buy from the Bush
  • Worked with local charity group Sapphire Life Opportunities  to establish a voucher system that gives people suffering hardship free vouchers to spend in LOCAL businesses. $5500 spent in local businesses and over $33,000 across the shire.


  • Work with the Eat Festival Committee to expand it from a 1 day event into a 3 day event Including Merimbula’s first Craft Beer Festival and 2 Degustation Dinners


  • Working to help businesses manage Covid Risks
  • Input into BVSC Commercial plans
  • Create a New Vision for Merimbula with a focus on long term plans including
    • Collective Store – Applied for and received $20,000 in funding
    • Sea Change Expo  – Applied for and received $20,000 in funding
    • Place making summit
  • Working with ACT company to try and attract them to install a major water based tourist attraction
  • Working with landlords to try and identify and attract suitable tenants for empty spaces including the old Woolworths building, Lakeside Walk Shops and McDonalds buildings
  • Working with specific businesses to try and help them keep their doors open




  • Work with SCDM and Merimbula Tourism to develop a calendar of major events and look for opportunities for new events
  • Manage renewal process for members and developed stickers for current members


  • Covid Safe Audits of local businesses, support, printed material and stickers
  • Crisis Meeting with Merimbula Tourism about low visitation and possibility of working together on promotions in ACT
  • Collaborating with the “Our Town” promotion
  • Call for Expressions of Interest for The Essence, Collective store project
  • Retail Sub Committee Meeting to discuss –

Upcoming Plans

October – December

  • Spring-Summer Retail promotions
  • Plans for Oktoberfest event at Oaklands
  • Plans for a Placemaking Summit to be held to reimagine the town centre and lobby for the implementation of the CBD upgrade


  • Grow local Chamber membership to includes trades, services and home based businesses
  • Working with the BVSC and other bodies to build the Economic Development for the area and create more highly paid jobs

April 2020

  • Run major event, Seachange Expo to target people looking to leave the city (especially after Covid) and make a new life for themselves in coastal areas.  $20k funding received.