THOSE who have lived in the Wimmera – even for a short time – know the equation when it comes to economic sentiment.
Given agriculture is our major industry, business confidence often swings the same way as confidence in the agricultural sector.
A good season means the hundreds of farmers and those in related industries who make up vast portions of our population base are able to spend in their communities.
A poor season means money is tight, and the investment does not flow as freely because, quite simply, people cannot afford to buy things other than what is essential to their business and their survival.
So we know the equation. But how can we help?
We have probably all heard the term ‘Buy local’ at some point in our lives, whether here in the Wimmera or elsewhere.
But it’s vital to know just how important this is.
‘Buy local’ is not just some cute catchphrase. It’s a meaningful way to ensure that we have a successful business community – and community in general – now and into the future.
If businesses prosper, communities can prosper. More investment in businesses means a healthier economy.
It means more choice for shoppers.
More money that can be invested back into the community through sponsorships and other means.
It also means more jobs, which in turn means more people.
And we all know how important that last point is. Our cities are growing bigger, but many of our smaller regional centres and towns are getting smaller and struggling to maintain population.
It’s no secret that this season has not been kind to our region’s growers, with the 2018-19 harvest prospects in many areas hinging on spring rain.
We know the rural sector underpins confidence in our communities, so the best thing we can do – particularly in a bad or tough farming season – is invest locally so that our other sectors in the Wimmera don't feel that pinch so significantly.
Buying everything where you live might not always be possible. But it’s important to try.
You might not see the benefits directly, but it makes a world of difference to our community.