The group was at a crossroads when the annual general meeting convened in February.
Members of the executive had left the chamber due to changed business circumstances, while membership growth was slow.
Founding member, and now president, Mariya Gojan, said the chamber formed out of Holroyd Council’s street committee in 2013 in response to local business people’s concerns about its lack of investment.
“It was quite strong for a couple of years,” she said. “We were successful in receiving a grant from Keep Australia Beautiful to purchase and install in cigarette bins in two local parks and we were also successful in obtaining funding from the State Government to install festive lighting for Merrylands Road.
“Then we had a period of instability in the executive, with a few people leaving due to changes in their employment or business, therefore it became difficult for the executive to meet and plan future events.”
February’s AGM was a last-ditch effort to revive the chamber’s flagging fortunes.
“Now we have a stable executive and have had for the past six to eight months,” Ms Gojan said.
“We planned the AGM to see if there was any interest in continuing.” The meeting attracted 15 local business people.
A new executive was elected, with Ms Gojan as president, and the push to create a new, invigorated chamber that was relevant and interesting to business people got underway.
Since then the chamber has gone from strength to strength. “Our plan is to have regular, bi-monthly events,” Ms Gojan said.
“We held an event at Avoca College and we hosted the launch of the Local Business Awards in March, where the awards founder and Precedent Productions managing director Steve Loe came out and encouraged businesses to join the awards and spoke about how they can leverage off the awards to grow their business.
“The Local Business Awards are very popular, and 30 people attended the meeting to hear what Steve had to say.
“Then in May we had Federal Member for Parramatta Julie Owens as our guest speaker to talk about various government grants that are available to them and various ways to find resources on government sites and other sites that can help small business.”
It was the chamber’s most successful event to date, with more than 50 attendees – including people from other chambers.
The head of another new entity in the area, Cumberland Council’s general manager Malcolm Ryan, will address the July meeting, which Ms Gojan hopes will see even more people attend the networking event.
“The General Manager will talk about the council’s plans for Merrylands in particular, the Town square and Macfarlane street precinct which was in previous council’s plans,” she said.
“We’ve heard a lot of stories and rumours about the future plans, so we just want to hear from the horse’s mouth what stage they’re at.”
So what is the outlook for Merrylands from the perspective of its businesses?
“There’s a bit of concern among Merrylands business people because they don’t see any improvements in the area, there is a lot of garbage being dumped around bins, parking police are not as vigilant and customers are finding it difficult to park,” Ms Gojan said.
“The chamber originally formed out of a street committee set up in 2013 to improve the area because it appeared that the council didn’t really care about the streets and how it looked like a second-rate suburb.
“We had funding provided by the State Government for some of the lighting and it was installed by Holroyd Council.
“We also wanted more greenery so that the suburb looked more attractive, to attract customers back to Merrylands.
“We’re pushing council to go ahead with all the improvements they have planned, because the businesses were quite excited that this was going to become a really beautiful suburb for everyone in Merrylands.
“We’re also focusing on having events that interest people and we’re a member of the NSW Business Chamber so we have access to services through them if our businesses need workplace or legal advice they can come through the chamber receive this advice.”
For more information call Ms Gojan on 0417 046 665 or visit www.merrylandschamber.com.au