‘We’ve dodged a bullet’: Chambers praise town's resilience
BUSINESS leaders have praised Lockyer Valley and Somerset businesses for their resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic, as restrictions begin to ease.
But the presidents of the Kilcoy and Lockyer Valley Chambers of Commerce have warned we're not out of the woods yet, and many businesses had been hit hard by lockdowns and the economic downturn.
"We've probably dodged the bullet. But we're still in the middle of no man's land," President of the Lockyer Chamber Paul Emmerson said.
With restrictions continuing to ease this weekend, Mr Emmerson said the impact to the Lockyer economy was a "mixed bag".
"Some have suffered some serious damage because they've obviously been shut … others have been busier than ever because they've got local product and have been getting really good support from the people," he said.
Kilcoy Chamber of Commerce president Bronwyn Davies said one of the positives to come from the experience had been the way businesses made changes to stay afloat and support their community.
"They've really stepped up to the plate and been incredibly adaptable, thinking outside the square," Ms Davies said.
"I think overall, Somerset (business) has been in incredibly intuitive about what they can do to keep themselves going and I'm proud of all the businesses in the region."
Ms Davies said the road map outlined by the state government towards the ending of restrictions was the right move, and while some elements needed tweaking - the core objective was the same.
But she cautioned against effort from some in the business community to re-open the economy faster.
"We do have to have a way of making sure that we don't invite more viral outbreaks," she said.
Both presidents agreed the virus provided a unique opportunity for both the local and nation economies to undergo much needed change into the future.
"I think we will see some changes especially in terms of the capacity for crowding and maybe even drilling down to how we conduct payment transaction across the counter," Ms Davies said.
"But I think overall, some of the regional centres may not see a huge change in how they do things."
Mr Emmerson hoped the experience would provide the impetus for Australia to restart its manufacturing sector.
"I hope it does bring some fundamental change," he said.
"We got we've got all the raw resources here we could ever possibly hope for … yet we don't make our own stuff. There's something wrong and we need to fix that."
But he also added it needed to be done in a careful and thought out manner.
"We've got to be wary that we don't cut off our nose to spite our face, because we do send a lot of stuff overseas as well," he said.
"We totally depend on being able to export and other countries buying our product."