The Alstonville Wollongbar Chamber of Commerce was relaunched after a series of public meetings attended by almost 60 people at each meeting including local Ballina Shire Councillors and individuals representing some 50 businesses of various types including professional, educational and health services, agriculture, retail, industrial manufacturing & supply, tourism (including rural tourism), and home-based businesses.
Our inaugural meeting was held in May 2007 and a full Executive Committee was announced.
Membership over the last 10 years has included a variety of differing businesses located in the Alstonville and Wollongbar CBD’s, the Russelton Industrial Estate, and various businesses and activities within the surrounding rural area and within the local urban areas.
The AWCC has continued to grow, develop and change over the last 10 years and has managed to take a leadership role in the community developing and implementing new ideas, events and issues which have been influenced by the various members, reflecting the ongoing needs of the business community here on the Plateau.
The AWCC continues to hold bi-monthly morning breakfast meetings with informative presentations from business and industry guest speakers, the Mayor and other Councillors of the Ballina Shire.
The AWCC also holds bi-monthly Business After Hours networking events. These are a great way for new and existing businesses to get together in a relaxed atmosphere and exchange ideas and develop ongoing relationships.
From the beginning, the AWCC have forged relationships with community organisations to work constructively with the community to create a more vibrant and dynamic community to live in.
The business and property owners of the Plateau are generally not just members of the AWCC. You will find they are also members of the local fire brigades, local sporting clubs, volunteer organisations such as agricultural and historical societies and local community service organisations. They are also involved in our local churches and educational institutions.
In 2007 the AWCC organised the first Main Street Christmas Markets and Business Light-up campaign. These have continued to be a highlight of the Christmas season. Since then, the AWCC has supported a variety of local community events including the New Years Eve Family Festival at the Showgrounds each year, the Summerland House Country Fair, and the Alstonville Show Week Celebrations which are held in conjunction with the Alstonville Agricultural Show in September each year. We have also run the Food & Wine festival involving various members of the AWCC.
The AWCC has forged alliances with the other Chambers of Commerce in Ballina Shire and other regional chambers in the Northern Rivers area through active membership and involvement with the NSW Business Chamber. The AWCC has been an actively participating in community and Council forums, and meets regularly with the local Council as a member of the Business Friendly Council scheme, set up by the NSW Business Chamber.
Through these alliances and as leaders in our community we have been involved in an ongoing basis to engage in the changes and development of the Plateau. These include community engagement meetings with the local Council (starting in early 2009) when the Main Street of Alstonville was upgraded and with the RTA & their Contractors when the Bypass was constructed past the towns of Alstonville & Wollongbar and the Russelton Estate, which culminated in a Community Celebration Open day in Mid 2011.
The AWCC were instrumental along with the local Ballina Shire Councillors in obtaining the new town signage and entry treatments on the new bypass at the entry to Alstonville & Wollongbar.
In 2015, the AWCC along with many other local community organisations organised a year-long series of festivities and community activities to celebrate the 150 years of settlement of the Alstonville Plateau, originally known as Duck Creek Mountain. This year-long celebration culminated in a massive street parade which included local community floats, vintage cars and a bullock team brought down from Queensland. The local businesses dressed up their businesses and staff for the occasion. The celebrations went into the night at a Family Festival at the Showgrounds.
Together with the local Lions and Apex Clubs, the AWCC and its membership has helped to develop, organise and sponsor the Annual Family Festival which is held in May each year. The Festival includes a variety of entertainment & markets in the Main Street, and family entertainment including Pig races at the historic Federal Hotel.
The AWCC continues to promote the Plateau to tourists and visitors through a variety of publications including business promotional material, visitor guides & tourist maps. The AWCC vigorously explores all advertising opportunities to promote the Plateau as a visitor, lifestyle and business-friendly destination.
We support and promote ALL businesses on the Plateau regardless of their membership status and to this end the AWCC Community & Business Awards held each year are open to all community members and businesses on the Plateau. These Awards were first held in 2013.
The latest challenge for community involvement for the AWCC is the 2016 Ballina Shire Council Strategic Plan for Alstonville. We will be taking an active role in engaging with Council and the community on the future growth and opportunities for the Plateau.
The AWCC membership and the Executive membership will continue to work alongside the community to create a great place to do business!