Leongatha businesses set up shop
SIX new businesses have opened, re-opened or changed hands in Leongatha in recent weeks, injecting a new sense of confidence in the town
Earlier this year, The Star reported there were 19 empty shops around Leongatha’s central business district.
However, more people have joined Leongatha Chamber of Commerce and Industry recently to express their passion for revitalising the town.
Chamber president Brenton Williams said new businesses include Rod Bending’s World, Gatha Pizza, Elsie’s Florist and Sweet Life Cakes, while Graeme and Sylvia Heath have taken over Bargains Plus, and the 60 Degrees Cafe has reopened.
Mr Williams said the community could expect a new business to open in the former hardware premises in Bair Street and a new development in the former premises of Great Southern Saddlery, also in Bair Street.
“I reckon this town is thriving at the moment,” Mr Williams said.
“It’s all happening. The town is abuzz.”
Rod Bending’s World has just opened his shop in the former Henriettas showroom on Bair Street.
In a previous article with The Star, owner David Walsh said he had chosen Leongatha for its country atmosphere, and its proximity to popular destinations like Melbourne and Wilson’s Promontory.
He was not the only business owner choosing to expand his business in Leongatha.
Well known Leongatha identities Jodie and Geoff Clarkson filled another Bair Street shop with their business Sweet Life Cakes.
Sweet Life Cakes is an extension of the Clarkson’s Sweet Life Cafe.
Mrs Clarkson said customers would come into the cafe, but were often unaware that cakes were available. Expanding into the new store would allow customers to order delicious, top quality cakes from an easily accessible location, as well as filling a need in the town.
Mrs Clarkson thanked South Gippsland Shire Council for its assistance in issuing permits for the family business to open.
However, mayor Cr Ray Argento said council can’t take all the credit.
“These business owners saw a need in the town and showed initiative. We have supported these businesses as much as possible, but at the end of the day it was up to them to put the first foot forward,” he said.
“I hope the community supports these businesses to ensure they are successful.”
Cr Argento said council assists new businesses by assisting with application processes, issuing permits, and ensuring the businesses abide by government regulations.
“We hope through these new investments, spirits will be lifted throughout the town. There are some great opportunities for businesses – not just in the centre of town but in other industries as well, like the celery farm in Middle Tarwin,” he said.
“Businesses such as these create local employment opportunities and boost the shire. I think it’s fantastic that we are seeing more people taking these opportunities in our town.”
The chamber plans to be part of a reinvigorated Leongatha Daffodil Festival this year, with McCartin Street to be closed to traffic on Saturday, September 2 with a historical car display, market stalls, pop up bars and live music, all coinciding with the Blue September depression fundraiser held by Autobarn.
Mr Williams’ wife Clare Williams is driving the festival.
“We’re trying to get people to come to the daffodil festival just to get people to know that Leongatha is a great town. It’s about putting the town on the map,” he said.
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