Ararat Regional Business Association, which has worked hard at introducing a number of successful initiatives over the past year, held its annual meeting recently, returning president Andrew Burger for another term.
Over the coming 12 months, Mr Burger, said ARBA was planning to explore avenues which could boost local businesses, one of which would be based on the national 'Australian Made' campaign.
"If it works at a national level it can also work a state level and I believe it can work at a local level as well," Mr Burger said.
Mr Burger said such a campaign would only be successful through education.
"There must be an education program in place that teaches people about buying local," he said.
"You will actually be protecting jobs, protecting our communities, ensuring our house prices continue to rise, our local businesses, and business opportunities.
"This is the type of thing we want to instil in people. That is what ARBA is currently tasked with."
Similarly, Mr Burger believes the CBD and its buildings need to be revitalised.
"We need a nice fresh look to reflect the fresh values that people have taken on board (to show) that people do take pride in their town and that is reflected in the attitudes when you walk into shops," he said.
"It is all wrapped up in the mindset of the trader."
Mr Burger believes most traders would be on board, however, many shops are owned by landlords who were not willing or able to improve their buildings.
"That's obviously the problem and that's one of the things we need to address," he said, also indicating that if a revitalisation program commenced, eventually all traders and landlords may come on board.
"If we don't start and we don't do anything we're going to get nowhere," he said.
Mr Burger said looking to the future in Ararat, online trading would be something traders would need to embrace, and there would be an impact on Ararat businesses eventually.
"At the moment we have a lot of boutique shops and I don't know to what extent they are affected. With the 'brands', they will have to get on the online bandwagon. Online shopping has two principles, one is convenience and the other is pricing.
"Those are the challenges we have got to meet," he said.
Embracing the online movement begins with business networking and Mr Burger believes members should be rubbing shoulders with knowledge builders.
"There's a lot of business acumen and business savvy out there that people need to tap into," he said.
Mr Burger said many traders had been in business for a long time and it was time to reinvigorate and refresh.
"We've got to be mindful of the industrial revolution that brought about major changes and people had to simply embrace that or become lost," he said.
"We can't deny that the world is moving on at a pace and we've got to embrace that."
ARBA endeavours to make information available to its membership through networking opportunities, which over the past year have included three well attended and successful business breakfasts, which have attracted a wide cross section of the business community.
Mr Burger said speakers such as A F Gason CEO Terry Pye and AME Systems' general manager Dean Pinniger were of great benefit to members.
"They speak to the people and simply tell them the ideas that have worked for them - and these are two big businesses who are both successful in Ararat," he said.
"They've stood the test of time, based upon very sound business principles and it's that which we'd like people to tap into.
"I think with all our business breakfasts and the open meetings it is the perfect opportunity for networking.
"I think that's where it starts. A business has got to retain currency in the business world, what is happening, where are we going what are the world trends - they must be aware of that."
Another successful initiative by ARBA over the past year has been the formation of a Business Mentoring Panel, which entails local business people volunteering their skills and expertise to new or struggling businesses.
Mr Burger said he was pleased that both the emphasis on networking and business mentoring last year had both come to fruition.
"We've done good work in respect of that and from that growth will be other things we will add and now is the time to look at how we are going to sustain local business.
"This is our town, let's make it work."