Pertinent issues raised at SFB Business Forum

Several important issues were raised at the second meeting of the St Francis Bay Business Forum this evening.

The get together was held at Big Time Taverna on the canals and about 120 people attended. Peri was as always a most affable host and there were great snacks on offer, lucky draw prizes and a congenial atmosphere.

Les Joubert, Andrie le Roux, Peter Bridges of SFB Bus Forum, Leonie Maritz, Carol Crowther, Debbie Schwulst

Issues raised at the Business Forum read out by Rob Birch were:

1. Roads and drainage – it is imperative that the infrastructure of the village be improved and the Business Forum is committed to working with the forums already in place addressing these but it committed to remaining focussed on business issues.

2. The SAP is in desperate need of additional office space to accommodate 10 new staff members coming on board – solutions need to be found. No suggestions came forward.

3. Tourism needs to be driven by business rather than the SFBRA where it currently falls, says Nigel Aitken. This should fall under the auspices of business and all agreed. Tourism is key to everyone in the village.

4.  Thyspunt . A call was made to get a speaker from Eskom to address business forum on the path forward. No strategic planning is possible while we wait in limbo

Guest speaker, Andries le Roux of Standard Bank thanked everyone for coming and pledged support.

Peter Bridges of the St Francis Bay Business Forum gave a welcome address. He spoke inter alia as follows:

“Welcome to all our SFB businesses, and to all visitors and observers.

A special thank you to Peri and the Big Time for hosting the SFB BF, and to Andries Le Roux and his Stanlib team for partnering us tonight. I think it is fantastic that our 2 SFB Banks have stepped up to the plate and got involved with the BF in the first 2meetings of the Forum. Thank you indeed.

It would not be appropriate to say a lot of water has passed under the bridge since we last met, but I guess we are thankful nobody was hurt and lives were not lost.

The only positive may be we still have a standing temporary bridge. SFB in crisis is at its best and it’s just a pity we can’t operate on that community/business plane all the time.

There are a number of new faces here tonight so please excuse me repeating for your benefit that the SFB BF is not a business or an association as such – it has no website, no bank accounts, no significant overhead, no employees and no committee that will prescribe to it.

It is you – the members of the Business Forum that use it to your benefit. There cannot be any barriers to involvement and therefore there is no subscription to belong- the only requirement is your participation and attendance. After all 100 minds working toegeter have to be better than one when it comes to ideas and solutions!

Business in St Francis Bay was tough 2 months ago – for most of us it is considerably tougher now. And to add to the difficulties apart from having a number of disasters, we’ve also had some bad media publicity. These more than any other reason must be why we need to get this forum working – so once again it’s a great turn out – thank you one and all.

Let’s convert our attendance into the Goals, Purposes, Policies and Plans that are clearly defined on our posters.

For the benefit of the new members here tonight may I repeat the Goal, Purpose, Policies and Plans of the SFB BF:

Goal: We need to be well informed so as to be the primary source of information to people who are interested in investing in the area.

Purpose: Is to make SFB a town that grows appropriately and attracts people and investors that have the same values as us. Through getting businesses in SFB to work together towards sustainable growth

To interface with all institutions that may wish to develop in the St Francis Bay Area;

To interchange with the Kouga Municipality through the appropriate channels;

The Policy is to actively defend any actions that will inhibit future growth of SFB by giving open and honest information plan: is to have an active member base that will take on the responsibility to gather and share information that will be useful and informative to the benefit of businesses in SFB through regular collaborative get-togethers of businesses in SFB/CSF.

Simply put folks we need to attract new investment into SFB for us to at least stop the rot!! There are issues galore that affect our community and tonight we need to focus on what we can and should do to address these. I hasten to add there are a number of other associations addressing these self same topics – and it would be crazy for each of us to work independently of each other for the same goal. Hence the importance of the businesses being well informed to give accurate information to possible investors.

It has to start with connect and network. Think of it this way – we have Rxxm a month spent by SFB of which we think 20% remains here in SFB. Even if we through networking get it up to 50% spend staying in SFB – it’s not sustainable.

We need new home owners, we need holiday visitors by the ton, maybe some of the tourists love the place sufficiently to buy homes here, we need home owners to upgrade not move off, we need new businesses to come in and hopefully complement existing businesses rather than compete for the small spends currently being spent for that category of business. Best of all would be a new industry – schools, retirement villages, hospitals/high care facilities, tourism from a new angle – and here folks we need to change the cart and horse – businesses need to drive tourism, not municipalities!

By networking and connecting – information gets disseminated far and wide, and this just may be the injection we need.

Do remember – bad news comes directly from us, critical opinions on things in SFB originate here – nowhere else.

Simply put – businesses are sometimes in competition, sometimes connected, sometimes in total disharmony – The St Francis Bay Business forum is not asking everyone to be pals. Respect yes. We’re saying connect network with everyone. You will know where to work together and more importantly you will have the positive information to give to interested parties wanting to come into SFB.

So the Agenda tonight is as follows:

a. Please connect with one another, have a look at the tables of those that have generously contributed to the St Francis Bay Business Forum. Please talk about the issues we face.

b. ln the next 20 minutes or so please come up to Rob and tell him what issues we as a Business Forum should address

c. Rob will facilitate the issues vs business regarding responsibility duplication etc

d. Folks the Business Forum is not a podium to put across viewpoints – you can do that on the floor with all the business owners.

e. We will pass the podium to our partners and hear what Stanlib has to say about SFB and their views on the economy in our area.

f. Decide on how often the BF should meet and when the next meeting will be.

The next meetings are on 24 October and 29 November.

Business minds need to get together over issues of tourism and Thuyspunt. Thanks to Nigel Aitken of SFBRA for input and pledge from Business Forum to work together with SFBRA to forge a path forward.

Meetings of Business Forum to be every second month.”

Andre Fouche, Gilly Schwitter, Nigel Aitken

Brian Codling. Keith Donaldson. Rita Strydom

Shelley Donaldson, Mike Morrison, Gilly Schwitter, Liesel Clause, Sam Bester and Garth Perry

Lettie, St Francis’ “Boerewors Queen”

Photos and info supplied by Lynette Aitken – (Edited and compiled by Bev Mortimer)

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