Ipswich Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Phil Bell.
Ipswich Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Phil Bell.

What is on the wishlist for Ipswich businesses for 2021

THE Ipswich business community is a resilient one but the all-consuming impacts of COVID-19 made 2020 a year more challenging than ever before.

Ipswich Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Phil Bell said he is positive about the year ahead and 2021 provided great opportunities for local businesses to prosper.

Ipswich has survived through devastating floods in 2011 and 2013, drought, bushfires and local political upheaval.

Tulmur Place opened at the end of November. Mr Bell says there is great optimism for the completion of the wider Nicholas Street Precinct.
Tulmur Place opened at the end of November. Mr Bell says there is great optimism for the completion of the wider Nicholas Street Precinct.

COVID-19 “will leave a lasting legacy” too, Mr Bell said.

“I don’t think anyone will be the same,” he said.

“We’re a business community that continues to show through everything we can continue to deliver.

“There were some great stories of success of businesses who overcame the challenges of 2020.”

But he said out of a terrible year, there was “significant potential” for local businesses to achieve success.

“I think (2021) is going to be about leveraging all of the things that have been put in place in 2020 during COVID,” he said.

“There was some pretty amazing advancements in terms of local content, procurement and supply.

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“We’ve seen both State Government and local government commitments to increase spending on local suppliers as a proportion of their total spend.

“When you understand an increase in Ipswich City Council’s local spend from 17 per cent to 25 per cent can produce between $14-16 million in increased spent in the local economy, that’s a pretty good outcome for business.

“We need to watch that and measure it. Business needs to be ready to deliver.”

Mr Bell said the completion of the Nicholas Street Precinct and advancement of the Ipswich to Springfield rail line were at the top of his list for 2021.

He said the booming city’s location 35 minutes from Brisbane and an equal distance between three major airports was a “blessing” going forward.

Mr Bell said the redevelopment of the CBD will only add to the attraction.

“I’m lucky enough to maintain close contact with our councillors and mayor about the project,” he said.

“There is significant commercial interest in those tenancies.

“The precinct has been extremely well planned and well prepared and fits nicely into our commercial offering.

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“It does compliment Riverlink (shopping centre) and across the city more broadly.

“It opens up the river and opens up our city with a fantastic combination of retail, hospitality, corporate space and entertainment.

“I’m very optimistic and I think the business community is as well.

“Seeing Tulmur Place open, there’s an incredible amount of confidence council is going to do what it says it’s going to do.

“It’s been an interesting, bizarre and challenging year. 2020 is a year we’ll never forget and I hope 2021 is also but for very different reasons.”

Read more stories by Lachlan McIvor here.