The Gunnedah Chamber and Commerce has paid tribute to a productive and successful 12 months at its 2023 annual general meeting.

Ben Hennessy, who was returned as chamber president, said after a busy past year the organisation continued to serve an important role in the Gunnedah business community.

“While much has been achieved in the year gone, much still lies ahead,” he said.

“The chamber provides an important vehicle to assist our members in growing stronger businesses, dealing with the shared challenges facing our business community and forging stronger connections between members.

“Business ownership can at times be a lonely journey.

“The Gunnedah and District Chamber of Commerce is a genuine reminder and opportunity that none of us need walk alone.”

The chamber executive welcomed two new additions to the board in life member Michael Broekman and former acting president, Paul O’Donnell.

The pair was endorsed to “executive advisor” roles on the chamber board.

Committee member CJ Baldry took on the role of vice president and Jasmine Alloway as treasurer. Keira Gifford was returned as chamber secretary and will continue her role in marketing and member engagement.

The chamber staged 14 events in the last year which hosted 615 attendees – a 66 per cent increase on the previous year’s attendance.

A highlight was the re-launch of the Business Gala Ball earlier this year which the president said was now “firmly entrenched” in the chamber’s event calendar. Her Highness the Princess of Tonga was special guest at the gala ball which raised more than $15,000 to rebuild a school in Kolomotu’a, Tonga, that was damaged by a tsunami in 2022.

Mr Hennessy said the chamber planned to host more specialised events in the future.

“Our goal is to continue to deliver events for our members that offer a range of benefits, including bringing experts in their field to speak to our members through training and educational seminars,” he said.

In recent months the chamber also formed two new sub-committees to help support local business and industry.

The Regional and Industrial Development Sub-committee has taken a particular focus on development applications.

The new group aimed to create a more favourable environment for future developments by “voicing concerns and working towards solutions that will benefit both businesses and residents”.

Also added to the chamber’s now six-strong sub-committee was the Retail Precinct Sub-committee.

This was formed to build and foster Gunnedah’s local retail precinct and the ongoing campaign to shop and support local.

Its membership was committed to “addressing daily grievances and concerns faced by the business owners and strive to create a supportive environment for them to thrive”.

Mr Hennessy said this year the chamber also ratified the formation of its Health Connect Sub-committee.

“This will look to have a strong focus in 2024 on creating networking and business support opportunities for health practitioners,” he said.

“This in turn improves the strength and connectedness of the medical-related businesses in our region.”

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