Opinion: Good for business

February 22, 2018

An artist impression of the proposed Cobram Village.

Every Wednesday morning I make the trip down the Murray Valley Hwy for cadet training in Shepparton.

The 50-minute journey to Shepparton News headquarters certainly does not faze me timewise, as I have become accustomed to driving nearly four hours to return home to Ballarat when I can.

Because The News is based in Kialla, at the other end of town, I am forced to drive directly through the central business district and it reminds me of home to a degree. Not that I necessarily miss city life as such, but it does get me thinking from time to time that It would be handy if Cobram had a few more resources that didn’t involve a decent car trip.

After my training came to its natural conclusion with our editor Andrew Mole making us look silly with his knowledge of the English language compared to ours, I descended upon Specsavers to purchase a new pair of glasses — a torrid task for anyone impaired by poor vision.

After an hour of tests and deliberation, I finally had a new pair of specs and some prescription sunglasses to go with them — a great result, really.

On the way home I began to ponder how convenient it would be if Cobram had such larger chain franchises to save the hassle of having to fiddle around in Shepparton. I realise we are probably fine from an optical standpoint, with a couple of optometrists already established here, but it is more the point of having a wider scope of options for essential items.

I find solo car trips are a great way to brainstorm and gather your thoughts.

Then it hit me — the proposed Cobram Village is currently on the table. I doubt it will have a Specsavers for the hopelessly blind like me, but I know many people in town are crying out for an Aldi supermarket, for example.

The proposed development raises an interesting proposition for the people of Cobram and, more directly, local businesses. Personally, I am a fan of the idea as it would instantly create new jobs while providing more options for the consumer. I think competition within a marketplace should never be discouraged as it forces businesses to better themselves, which only benefits the town’s residents.

Small business owners have the right to be concerned that Cobram Village’s location in Colgan St may drag people away from the centre of town, but I believe regulars will always be regulars as long as a great service continues to be provided.

There is also the other ethical question of whether a rural town like Cobram should be commercialised. It may alter Cobram’s small-town charm to an extent, but I think in the long run these types of developments will only help bring more people to the area and make it a more attractive destination for people considering moving here.

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