ARARAT Rural City Council wants to improve business opportunities in the community.
It has partnered with the Ararat Rural Business Association in a bid to strengthen the local business sector.
Ararat council's chief executive Tim Harrison said the business association had been in caretaker mode for the past 12 months after it struggled to get numbers for a committee - but that needed to change.
"I think we still need a business organisation in Ararat, and if we could do the day-to-day leg work, it would give people a chance to get enthused about it again and grow the membership," Dr Harrison said.
"Towns and communities with strong business sectors usually have a strong business sector because they have a way of grouping together and promoting their business - it's that sense of being stronger together."
The council will commit an economic development officer to the business association to help it re-establish itself. The role is not a new one; instead it will be undertaken by a current employee for the next 12 months.
"I'm providing the staffing for at least the first year of the partnership, and we'll review it at the end of the year," Dr Harrison said. "Then we'll look at support into the future."
ARBA treasurer Graeme Foster welcomed the partnership.
"ARBA needs to become relevant, and we need a strategic plan around what we'd like to achieve and how we'll achieve it," he said.
"Council's support will enable us to rally the troops for all business sectors - this is not just about retail in the main street.
"We want everyone involved - from agribusiness, tourism and manufacturing, to retail and micro businesses from right across the municipality."
Dr Harrison said he was not concerned about any potential conflict of interest between the council and ARBA throughout the partnership.
"I really hope the business organisation finds a really strong voice for itself," he said.
"If that means criticising council through that process, I welcome that - because the only way to get better at what we do is to engage through that stakeholder process."
The next step for the partnership is hosting a public meeting on Wednesday from 6pm at Chalambar Golf Club in Ararat.
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