NOT DOOM AND GLOOM: A national think-tank said the economic prosperity of Lismore's CBD will depend on everyone working together.
NOT DOOM AND GLOOM: A national think-tank said the economic prosperity of Lismore's CBD will depend on everyone working together. Kate O'Neill

CBD 'not all doom and gloom'

LOOKING at strategies to help rescue the Lismore CBD will take a holistic approach and need 100 per cent commitment from all parties according to the head of a national think-tank.

Regional Australian Institute's co-executive director, Dr Kim Houghton, said while retail in regional centres such as Lismore was always volatile, the situation could be turned around.

"It's not all doom and gloom,” he said.

"But if a cornerstone business disappears, it can be upsetting and very challenging.”

Dr Houghton said the key to reinvigorating the Lismore CBD was to bring all the relevant parties together and he warned there was no one easy fix.

"This involves an alchemy as there's no one recipe to solving this problem,” he said.

"But it really helps if business owners, the Chamber of Commerce and council are on board regarding investing in issues as people need to work together and agree where they want the town centre to grow and how.”

Dr Houghton said business-owners in regional centres businesses need to keep up what people not only choose to buy, but also how they choose to purchase goods and services.

"On one side you have customers who really value the local-ness of a business and the great service they provide but it's a paradox as sometimes businesses are not keeping up with what people are looking for,” he said.

"There are still a number of people running businesses who like to do things a certain way and it's very hard to run a retail shop the same way for 30 years.

"Keeping abreast of changes to retailing while ensuring you offer new ranges of products and services can be very challenging he said,

"Retailers must know their target market and be sure it's large enough to provide them an income.”

Dr Houghton said like many other towns, Lismore' strengths were its family-owned and operated independent stores.

"We need to remember our main streets live or die on the back on a bunch of local retailers so we should love the independence when we find it,” he said.