Project to activate city’s CBD

Wagga Wagga’s business community has united behind a joint initiative developed to reconnect and reactivate the community, starting with the heart of the city.

Launched this week in the lead up to Christmas, Live local. Be local involves Wagga Wagga Business Chamber, Wagga Wagga Women in Business, Committee for Wagga Wagga, Charles Sturt University, BEC Business Advisors, Eastern Riverina Arts, Regional Development Australia, the Bridge Hub, and Wagga Wagga City Council.

Council’s Director Regional Activation Michael Keys said Live local. Be local is the first campaign of its type which unites all of Wagga’s business community.

“The initial shock of social distancing, quarantining, and shutdowns due to COVID-19 have taken a toll,” Mr Keys said.

“Now it’s time to look ahead to how we reconnect with our community.

“Our goal is to not just recover from a global catastrophe, but to come out the other side as a stronger region.

“Our Main Street is the heart of the city, a gathering place, centre of activity and focal point for a community. The success and level of activity in the city centre enables and facilitates community spirit, interest, local and neighbourhood activity, as well as business confidence and investment.”

Live local. Be local has three main elements which support short, medium and longer-term injections of activity into the main street:

* Main Street Live – incorporates activities in the main street to create energy in the CBD. This element will be led by the Wagga Wagga Business Chamber.

* Create Space program – involves empty shop activations in the CBD showcasing the region’s creative talents and creating a reason for people to revisit the main street, or to stay longer. It will be facilitated by Eastern Riverina Arts and supported by a Federal grant.

* Main Street Hub – providing a central point that encourages business interactions and engagement that will help establish coming to the CBD as a habit, versus a one-off event.

Wagga Wagga Business Chamber President Rhyley Hunter said being an advocate for local business, the Chamber recognises the importance of working with the other partners of this initiative.

“Activation of the heart of our city requires economic, environmental, social and cultural elements to truly make it a vibrant and attractive precinct,” Mr Hunter said.

“We have been consulting with local business owners to discuss ideas and concepts for attracting people to our main street.

“We encourage businesses to reach out to discuss their ideas and concepts as we assist in the development of a long-term plan.”

Eastern Riverina Arts Executive Director Tim Kurylowicz said the organisation sees enormous potential in our local artists and creative businesspeople to attract new investment and bring new energy into the region.

“Through our Create Space program, we will work with local creatives and shop owners to develop sustainable businesses in our main streets, boost activity and foot traffic and activate empty or underutilised spaces,” Mr Kurylowicz said.

“There are big returns for Wagga Wagga if we can facilitate more local creative products, exhibitions, and events across our CBD, while supporting and nurturing people who are building their creative businesses right here.”

Businesses across the city are encouraged to participate in the initiative, while residents are urged to support the Live local. Be local activities and promotions over the coming 12 months.

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