Town's population growth not reflected in business strength

DURING the past 16 years, Lowood retiree Shirley Marchiori has watched shops close and her options decline in the town she calls home.

She and her husband Mario have seen friends, neighbours, and businesses come and go, as the town continues to grow and develop.

But as far as Shirley is concerned, not all of these changes have been for the better.

"The services we need are shrinking," Mrs Marchiori said.

"Shoes, clothes, cameras, a million other things, we can't find them here, so we have to go to Ipswich or Gatton."

Lowood's population has grown by more than 3000 people since 2006, but the town itself has not been reflecting this growth.

The town has lost three of its banks. As a result, many residents have been left with no choice but to switch to a new bank or be forced to travel to other towns to visit a branch.

In the same time period, several other small businesses, such as restaurants, a mechanic, the electrical store that replaced the mechanic, discount stores, and other shops, have been bought out, moved away, or closed down.

This has all led to difficulties for the businesses that remain, with less customers in town leading to reduced profits, and job losses.

"It's sad, it really is," she said.

"There's lots of friendly storeowners in town. They treat their customers well."

A brief walk down any one of Lowood's central streets reveals a discouraging number of empty buildings.

Some of them have 'for lease' signs in their windows, while others have nothing but dust and cracked glass, with rubbish scattered on the floors.

When asked what would need to change to bring some life back into Lowood's business scene, Mrs Marchiori was unsure.

"I don't know. We're always being told to support our local community, but if the businesses aren't there, how are we expected to support them?" she said.

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