Year of pressure on many
THIS was the year most Bundaberg businesses would like to forget as quickly as possible.
The devastating summer floods drove several businesses to the brink of failure, with some hit harder than others.
Midtown Marina owner Ray Foley said the flood cost him millions of dollars as the water swept through his premises on the bank of the Burnett River, forcing him to move his chandlery store into a building high above the river.
There was little good news during the year, with 107 workers losing their jobs when Telstra withdrew a contract from the Salmat call centre.
In March chemical spray from a nearby farm wiped out a crop of tomatoes at SP Exports, and in May Dynamic Homes closed its doors.
Barbera Farms managed to restart its operations after being shut down, and in November Bundaberg Metal Industries prepared to close its doors after 69 years in operation.
Bundaberg and District Chamber of Commerce president Dion Taylor said the emotional impact of the devastating floods had to be understood.
"From the chamber's point of view getting the businesses back operating was the important thing," he said.
"There were business relocations and staff had to be let go."
Mr Taylor said while most of the businesses hit by the floods were still in operation, it was a good time for the business community to review its operations.
"The biggest aspect was the financial pressures a lot of business people were placed under," he said. "It was not just the flooding, there were a lot of ongoing pressures placed on people."
Mr Taylor said retail and construction were two of the sectors worst affected during the year in the Bundaberg region.
In the retail sector prices were so low consumers were probably able to make some good buys, he said.
In the construction industry things were so bad many builders were not operating in the Bundaberg region any more.
"Many are relocating to Gladstone and the mining areas to take advantage of the resources boom," he said.
But Mr Taylor said he was confident Bundaberg as a region was still open for business.
"We are continuing to look at ways to interest new businesses in the region," he said.
Mr Taylor said the chamber was continuing to identify opportunities such as culinary tourism and the resource sector.
He said recruitment and unemployment had been a rollercoaster ride in the past 12 months because many skilled people were leaving the region.