There was a changing of the guard at the Bega Valley Shire Business Forum AGM last week.
After 20 years at the helm, Robert Hayson stood down as chairman. Mr Hayson was instrumental in helping to establish the forum as a body that represented all of the Chambers of Commerce in the Bega Valley.
In his report he stated he was standing down for personal reasons, but took pleasure in presiding over the forum for 20 years.
"It has been a challenging few years for businesses in the Bega Valley, with the Tathra fires in 2018, severe drought in 2019 and then the fires and COVID in 2020," he said.
"Despite these challenges, the Bega Valley is a strong resilient region and I am confident that it will get through the crisis and come out better than ever."
As per protocol all positions were declared vacant and nominations were accepted with the following positions being filled. Nigel Ayling chairman, Kerry McKee vice-chair, Malcom Hughes treasurer, Andrew Haydon and Jannette Neilson committee members.
In his acceptance speech, new elected chairman Mr Ayling thanked Mr Hayson for his dedication and input over 20 years, and acknowledged just how many hours a volunteer role like this could consume.
"Now more than ever our business community and chambers need to work more closely together to tackle the challenges and build a stronger community," Mr Ayling said in the general meeting.
"Chambers of Commerce play a very important role in the area, and all levels of government acknowledge the role that chambers play and look to them for input for any matters regarding business development.
"Whilst each chamber plays an important role for it's town, we are stronger if we work together and we should be considering a model for a regional Chamber of Commerce."
As Chairman he asked each of the chambers to discuss some of the issues that their towns and members were facing. While each chamber had some unique issues facing their town, there were a number of shared issues such as shortage of skilled staff, housing shortages, both which were making it hard for businesses to cope with demand as they come out of COVID.
"If we work together at the forum on some of these common issues, we can combine some of our resources which frees us up to deal with local issues at a local level."