Sunbury’s push for local ‘spend’

Greater investment and increased community awareness are the keys to unlocking a town’s business potential, Sunbury Business Association president Michael Osborne says.

Speaking ahead of a Labor Party jobs forum at Sunbury on Monday night, Mr Osborne said business and community leaders needed to work together to stop some of the town’s $72 million being spent at major shopping and commercial centres in other areas.

“If we can contain some of that and keep it within the community, businesses will be stronger and employ more people,” he said. “It’s self-fulfilling in a sense.”

Mr Osborne said that while there was a general buoyancy around town, retail remained a struggle.

‘‘I don’t think the economy is as great as it’s being made out to be,’’ he said.

‘‘But a lot of it also comes down to that awareness.

‘‘Businesses that really understand what it is they provide, and promote that, are doing okay.’’

Mr Osborne said streetscape improvements and efforts to turn O’Shanassy Street into a foodie hub would draw more people to the town centre.

Chain stores welcome

He said the recent arrival of chain stores, such as The Good Guys, and future developments including a Dan Murphy’s store in Horne Street, were also welcome.

‘‘Some people say it might be detrimental, but I think, ultimately, if you want people to shop here, you’ve got to give them some choice.

‘‘There’ll be people who want big brands and range, and there’ll be others who want service.

‘‘They should be able to pick either one and it’s up to the business owners to determine which market to play in, and tailor their business accordingly.’’

McEwen MP Rob Mitchell slammed the federal government for ignoring Sunbury when handing out $4million in grants for projects under the second round of the Melbourne’s North Innovation and Investment Fund.

‘‘We are seeing extraordinary residential growth in the outer north, but we are not seeing the investment from the federal government that will support jobs in our communities,’’ he said. ‘‘It has shunned Sunbury and our communities in the Calder corridor.’’

Mr Mitchell said the area didn’t need any more people trying to drive on already congested roads, because they had no choice but to drive south in the morning and north in the afternoon.

‘‘What we need is job investment close to the communities that are growing.’’