CONNECTING A UNITED PASSION TO GROW THE LOCAL BLACKTOWN ECONOMY

AUSTRALIA’S NEWEST BUSINESS CHAMBER IS RIGHT HERE IN WESTERN SYDNEY

History was created in Western Sydney on Wednesday June 7th 2014, with the informal launch of the newly created Greater Blacktown Business Chamber Incorporated and the induction of its first members.

A packed room at the Blacktown Workers Club learned of the 12 month journey to establish Australia’s newest chamber and the opportunities, now available to business people in the greater west of Sydney. The function was low key without the fuss of visiting politicians or media presence. Instead, the audience was made up of business owners and employees with the vision to contribute to the business community of the greater Blacktown region. The NSW Business Chamber and Blacktown City Council sent representatives to the launch event, namely, Geoff Starr and Economic Development Officer Nathan Burbridge.

The Master of Ceremonies was Robyn Atkins who is a very active local business person and was part of the steering committee responsible for creating the Chamber. She invited Stephen Frost from the Blacktown Business Network BREED organisation to put the event into context by outlining the history of chambers in the Blacktown area. Stephen talked about the fantastic work of the original Blacktown Chamber in the late 90’s when, as the story goes, they had connections around the world that brought business to the area. He spoke of its chequered later years and unfortunate demise. He then praised the work of the other local chambers which support businesses at Riverstone, Rooty Hill and Mt Druitt.

The inaugural Charter Chamber President of the Greater Blacktown Business Chamber, Trevor Oldfield AM KSJ JP, was then offered his first official task in welcoming the function guests and presenting foundation members with their certificates. The first member to receive a certificate was Mark Beach of Guardian Funerals - a very symbolic gesture considering the phoenix-like rise of the GBBC. The contemporary brand identity and promotional materials for the Chamber were designed by Gold Foundation Member, Mode media, which has clients right across the Greater West and co-owner Chris Hekeik was presented with his certificate.

Robyn then invited local businessman and key stakeholder Frank Webb to explain how it was that the GBBC had become a reality after a 14 year absence,

“I have been involved in the BBN for about three years and during that time I have always been surprised that there was not a Blacktown Chamber of Commerce. One day I found out that such a group did exist and I wanted to join up but this proved to be very difficult. When I called them I found that they were difficult to contact, did not return calls and did not have public meetings. In short, they were not an inclusive organisation.”

Frank added that a couple of events occurred at the same time which highlighted the need for an inclusive business chamber in Blacktown,

“The Parramatta Chamber of Commerce celebrated 100 years of service and the NRMA Western Sydney Wanderers kicked off. Being very passionate about Western Sydney I pushed my company, Business Clarity, and the Parramatta Chamber to become sponsors of the Wanderers, which we both did. The Wanderers began their fairy tale of amazing success and all of a sudden the people of Western Sydney were singing with pride. The region had a new profile and it was a very successful one. This atmosphere of local pride was given a boost during the Federal election when our region was recognised as being an economic powerhouse of New South Wales and Australia. For example, the gross regional product of Blacktown alone is $10.8 billion per annum. I began to think…the Wanderers train in Blacktown and play in Parramatta…these are two of the major business centres of the region. Parramatta had a long serving chamber which was celebrating its 100th year but Blacktown didn’t have anything. I was a member of the board of the Parramatta Chamber and so I approached them with the idea of sponsoring the establishment of an inclusive chamber in Blacktown. I was very surprised when they said yes."

Frank met with the management committee of BBN and presented the concept and with their support the process began. A group of 45 interested people met on June 5 2013 at a meeting of BBN and formed a committee to get things underway.

“We thank those people and the committee that was formed on that night for their hard work in putting together what we see tonight. This includes the team at BBN whose vision helped to make this all possible.”

Frank added that it is the growth of small to medium business which will put the region ‘on the map’ even more.

"A large organisation outsources 500 jobs and it makes the headlines but when 2,000 small businesses employ one more person each they don’t make the news, but what they do achieve is an economic stimulus right across the region. The Greater Blacktown Business Chamber is here to help spark that growth."

Where to from here?

"Chambers are about getting business owners together, not so much that they sell to each other in the room but more that they can share ideas and motivate each other. It is the enthusiasm of the members which will decide whether Greater Blacktown Business Chamber is successful or not”, said Charter Chamber President Trevor Oldfield, "The future of the Chamber is bright as is the future of Western Sydney but it will only happen if we embrace the process to make our vision clear and work towards an agreed goal.”

“We are not a chamber limited to the Blacktown region but as the name suggests we are here for Greater Blacktown. I invite businesses of all shapes and sizes - from sole traders, partnerships and not for profit organisations to large companies - between Parramatta and Penrith to become a member of the Greater Blacktown Business Chamber. During my years with the Parramatta Business Chamber I have seen hundreds of businesses grow because of what they learned and who they met through their chamber and the same can happen right here.“

"Both Frank and I bring a lot of experience from our involvement with the board of the Parramatta Chamber - nine years for myself including three as President and two years for Frank - which places us in an ideal position to help steer Blacktown’s business community."

The vision and confidence of the Greater Blacktown Business Chamber committee can already be seen in the first event they are planning for the region: the official public launch of the GBBC. It will be the biggest combined business chamber event ever staged in Sydney with involvement from organisations representing Parramatta, the Hills, Blue Mountains, eastern suburbs and the West.  

The vison and confidence of the Greater Blacktown Business Chamber is now clear as we look back to our very first event: the official public launch of the GBBC. It was the biggest combined business chamber event ever staged in Sydney, with involvement from organisations representing Parramatta, the Hills, Blue Mountains, eastern suburbs and the West.  

To enquire about membership and coming events email services@greaterbbc.org.au

Contributions made by Craig Hingston, Mode Media 


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