By Abbey Jane

If you haven’t heard the term ‘Geechange’ yet, get used to it. It’s no secret that Geelong is experiencing a meteoric rise in popularity as a place to call home. The pandemic-driven influx of Melburnians has seen droves of home seekers and big businesses heading down the Princes Highway. As you can see from the ever-escalating city skyline, everything is on the rise. Major players such as NDIS, Worksafe and the TAC now have their HQ in Geelong’s CBD. The Spirit of Tasmania is coming to Corio Bay in spring of this year and with it, a new tourist-friendly terminal hub and exciting job openings. Restrictions have eased and local tourism has reignited, with mega-acts the Foo Fighters and Midnight Oil stopping in to rock out in the space of a week. All this is very, very good news for Geelong’s economy. The city is enjoying a serious cash injection from new residents and visitors alike, so here are our hottest tips on how to get your share of the Geechange-fuelled prosperity.

Chat with the Chamber

If you want to talk business with a vibrant, diverse and supportive local community, the Geelong Chamber of Commerce is ready and waiting to start the conversation about your experiences. As passionate local region advocates and activists, they understand that many local business owners are still on the road to recovery after the pandemic. To help get businesses back on their feet, they’re encouraging everyone to get back out there. Their membership onboarding process is designed to reduce anxieties about post-pandemic networking through online member mingles, monthly in-person ‘After 5’ networking events plus access to wellbeing workshops and ‘Unbreakable’ podcasts with Wellbeing Consultant Angie Hilton. Your membership will also reward you with a wide range of networking, advertising and marketing opportunities where you’ll discover fresh ways to increase your exposure. As part of the Chamber’s mission, they are currently offering a special Membership Bundle with over $700 worth of included promotional benefits. Promote your business in their newsletter ads and at their After 5 events with an expo table. You’ll also enjoy special event opportunities and dedicated video promotions on their Facebook page. Sign-up online, email the team or call 03 5222 2234.

Award Your Success

Geelong’s most glamorous night of nights, the Geelong Business Excellence Awards (GBEA), will be back IRL in 2022 after two years of online broadcasts. If you want the chance to be officially recognised by an esteemed judging panel, throw your professional hat into the ring. You can nominate yourself as a business leader, nominate your own business or nominate someone else you respect and admire within the Geelong business community. The GBEA has been running for over 35 years and celebrates creativity, resilience and entrepreneurship in our booming city. It’s a true celebration of local achievement and industry culminating in a glittering awards night in October. Previous winners and nominees have enjoyed fantastic exposure and professional recognition. Entries open officially on the 6th of May, 2022. Check their website for more information about this exciting and unmissable event.

The Geelong Business Excellence Awards opens for entries on May 6th. Image credit: GBEA

Boost Your Digital Game

During lockdowns, the online world became critical for ‘pivoting’. Whether you were a restaurant that started selling culinary cook-ups to order, or you had to perform an urgent cloud migration to enable work-from-home capability, the inter highway became our new high street. Even though we are moving to a COVID-normal status with workers returning to the office, online efforts remain critical for effective customer targeting. If your website is looking a bit tired, or your social media posts are few and far between, now is the time to refocus your digital marketing strategy. If you don’t quite know what SEO means, get on it. Ranking highly on Google for your chosen service is key when it comes to attracting new customers.

While investing in brand awareness and digital marketing may fall lower on your priority list after a tough couple of years, don’t delay. Outsourcing your web and marketing activity is more affordable than you may think. Just ask Managing Director Nathan George from Pixeld digital marketing agency about the importance of your online presence for a reasonable fee. “If you don’t invest in a dynamic website or definitive digital marketing strategy, you’ll fall behind. Demonstrating online proficiency is non-negotiable if your goal is to grow your business.”

There are numerous entrepreneurs taking advantage of refound freedoms to get those start-ups into gear, and they are all lining up for websites, so it might be wise to give Nathan a call before he gets too busy.

If you want to grow your business, now is the time to give your website and digital marketing strategy some serious attention.

Hands-up For Handouts

Don’t be shy, and certainly don’t be ashamed to make the most of the government’s commitment to rejuvenating Australia’s business landscape. There is a wide range of government grants available at both local and national levels designed specifically to help new and struggling businesses. The City of Greater Geelong is offering over $4 million across 2021 and 2022 to assist the community, arts, cultural, sporting, recreation and environment sectors. They are also supporting the Runway Project, a regional Victorian organisation that aims to take great ideas to the world stage and work with start-ups from all walks of life. For a full list of local and Commonwealth Grants available, visit COGG Business Grants and Funding

Pay The Fortune Forward

If you’re confident that your business will boom as a result of Geelong’s increasing prosperity, pay it forward. Many of Geelong’s retrenched trade workers and their families are still suffering the effects of mass operational closures, such as the Ford Factory and the Alcoa Smelter. Because Geelong is enjoying an influx of residents, house prices and rents are being driven up and out of reach for those already struggling financially. If you can help, there’s no shortage of good people doing great things in and around town. Aligning with and contributing to a local charity is a positive action where everyone benefits.

Why not consider disability employment services if you’re looking for staff?

If you’re not sure where to start, Give Where You Live is a Geelong-based charity organisation that has been working towards a fairer world and creating a community in which equity is normalised. While you can donate personally, businesses can utilise their corporate giving option for mutually beneficial partnerships. Contact them today to start your local philanthropical journey. 

Finally, if you’re one of many businesses experiencing a staff shortage crisis, think outside the box for attracting and retaining staff. Encompass is a disability employment services provider that specialises in inclusive employment. They’ll match candidates with your staffing requirements and you could also receive wage subsidies. If you want to offer employee benefits that won’t hurt your budget, Geelong’s The Salary Packaging People can help you incentivise new and existing recruits with no-cost salary packaging and novated leasing solutions. 

The future of Geelong business looks bright indeed.