Matthew Wales has been re-elected as President of the Peninsula Business Chamber for the 24th year in a row making him one of the longest-standing presidents of any NSW Chamber.
“I have had a great team of people around me,” Wales said following the recent Peninsula Chamber AGM.
“I’ve been very fortunate that I have good business people and a long-serving executive that have the experience to back me up in the things that I need to do for the business community,” he said.
“We have a depth of knowledge that Council and government can find difficult to deal with because we are not easily dissuaded when we know things aren’t right.”
“Our very strong alliance with Business NSW (also) means we have a very legitimate voice when it comes to the decision-making process.”
Wales said Central Coast Council’s recent decision to take the Bullion Street carpark at Umina off its list of assets to be sold was a recent example of the Chamber’s clout.
Although not necessarily opposed to the sale, most of the Chamber members were around in 2007 when the development of the carpark was last floated and the sticking point both times has been the shortage of alternative parking in Umina during construction.
Wales said he believed the Woy Woy Peninsula had changed significantly and for the better during his tenure as Chamber President.
“We are now just seeing the long-term benefits including the strong growth in property prices, strong redevelopment and the resurgence of the Ettalong Beach village and these things didn’t happen by accident,” Wales said.
He said the migration of young families to the Peninsula in recent years was an “incredibly good thing” because they came with fresh ideas and grew the area’s disposable income which was good for local business.
“Those young families mean we are seeing a lot of knock-down and rebuilds and excellent renovations and they are not daunted by a million dollar price tag,” Wales said.
Key challenges for the future will be ensuring an adequate supply of housing and ensuring the maintenance of town centres, he said.
“Central Coast Council has to get on with the job of the Woy Woy Town Centre strategic review which was put on the back burner due to a lack of funding about six months ago.
“We are in deep discussions with Council about getting it back on track or Woy Woy will continue to fall behind Umina and Ettalong.”
Those discussions are taking place with both the CEO and Administrator and assurances have been given to the Peninsula Chamber that Council will review its upcoming budget to accommodate the town centre’s revitalization.
Woy Woy Town Centre will be one of the Chamber’s focal points for the next 12 months and it is currently “exploring” partnerships with the state government.
Wales said it was too early to provide details about these partnerships but they related to the portfolios of NSW Deputy Premier, John Barilaro, who is Minister for Regional NSW, Industry and Trade.