WEST Wimmera business confidence is booming, with new businesses opening and existing businesses expanding across the local government area.
West Wimmera Shire Council economic development manager Kellie Jordan said a council survey of shire businesses showed about 40 per cent of business owners were “very optimistic” about the future of their business in the region.
New businesses range from hair and beauty, to dog grooming, hospitality, a tattoo parlour and a puppet shop.
“These businesses are right across our region, from Kaniva, to Edenhope and Harrow,” Ms Jordan said.
“It’s been a really good six months or so for the shire.
“The Dergholm pub has incorporated a café within the pub and it’s beautiful.
“They do wood fired pizzas and live music on a Sunday.”
At Kaniva, Julie Finch, who has moved from Handorf, has opened the Kaniva Puppet Shop.
Ms Jordan said the business was “so much fun” to visit, with handmade puppets, marionettes, toys and games.
“There is also a new tattoo shop in Kaniva, which is doing a fantastic job and has really integrated into the community,” she said.
Beauty is also booming – at Edenhope at least – for both humans and four-legged friends.
Edenhope Pawfection has opened for people with fashionable ‘oodle’ dogs, filling a gap in the market for pet owners who either had to travel to Naracoorte, Bordertown or Horsham to have their pooches groomed.
Ms Jordan said a new hair and beauty business had also opened at Edenhope, while an existing beauty service had expanded.
“Harrow also now has a weekend retreat,” she said.
“I’ve always said Harrow is the perfect place for a wellness retreat and, in conjunction with the bed and breakfast at Harrow, the business is offering yoga and pilates.”
Ms Jordan said most businesses had reported a seasonal ‘lull’ at the beginning of winter.
“But, from my personal point of view, and my role with council, businesses are opening and people are confident to open a business,” she said.
“To have businesses with such diversity opening as well – it’s very positive.”
However, Ms Jordan said internet ‘black spots’ within the shire continued to be of concern to businesses, with Harrow struggling to connect to eftpos.
“You can imagine how much better our businesses will run with that access,” she said.
Hindmarsh Mayor Debra Nelson said business confidence within the Hindmarsh Shire local government area was “not too bad” with “plenty of opportunities”.
Cr Nelson said low start-up costs in county areas created incentive to go into business and, within the past year, the Karen community had opened a supermarket in Nhill, selling traditional food.
Paw Po, which means ‘little flower’ in Karen, has also opened as a community enterprise operating through Nhill Neighbourhood House.
The business creates handmade products using traditional fabrics, including cushions, oven gloves, mats and rope baskets.
Cr Nelson said Paw Po, which also has a website, was about making people ‘job ready’.
She said Dimboola was “fairly consistent” business-wise, but delicatessen Good Paddock had opened in the past 12 months.
“It’s about diversifying a bit and having a few new things,” Cr Nelson said.
“From a tourism point of view, with travellers coming through, if you go to Nhill after hours, it’s hard to get something to eat.”
She said she would like to see more work in the hospitality sector to cater for that market.
“Years ago, if you went somewhere, you would always pack a thermos, but everyone wants to stop at a coffee shop and buy a cake these days,” Cr Nelson said.
“It’s a difficult one, because small businesses are largely owner-operators and they do work seven days a week and need a break, but there is certainly a need in that hospitality space.”
Having said that, Cr Nelson said the Nhill community was “fairly good at supporting local businesses and businesses in turn are also good at supporting our town”.
Yarriambiack Shire Council community and economic officer Marianne Ferguson agreed that tourism in the region was providing opportunities for small businesses within the shire.
Ms Ferguson said the Silo Art Trail had led to an increase of travellers, which was “extremely positive and very noticeable”.
“The visitors are coming from all over Australia and, with installations soon to take place in Lascelles and Rosebery, this is projected to increase visitation over the next 12 months and beyond.”
In the agricultural sector, Ms Ferguson said high lamb prices had been great for farmers.
But although the 2016-17 season had had good crop yields “unfortunately the prices fell away”.
“Farmers are looking for rain at the moment to ensure the good start continues throughout the season,” she said.