Meet The Locals: Brady Sullivan CEO Of The Caloundra Chamber Of Commerce And Industry

June 13, 2024

This week we shine the spotlight on the Caloundra Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The Chamber works hard to build connections and promote businesses in our area, and it also runs great events. Caloundra City Realty happens to be a long-term member, and we often use the Chamber’s business hub and boardroom for meetings.

We recently spoke with CEO, Brady Sullivan, about the work they do to build strong business links within our community.

Brady, great to see you again – for those who may not know, what does the Caloundra Chamber of Commerce and Industry actually do?

Our key objective is to be the most welcoming, dynamic and connected business community in Queensland. We support the business and broader Caloundra community through connection, inspiration and advocacy.

Unlike a lot of other Chambers of Commerce across the country, we’re fortunate to have an operational staff of people employed to help our members. So, we don’t have to rely solely on member volunteers who are also busy working in their own business.

Thanks to the foresight of our committee in building the full-time team, we’re now one of Queensland’s biggest and most active Chamber of Commerce, and we’re engaged in a lot of advocacy across all levels of government.

As CEO, I have a great community around me and a great committee. Within our membership base, the power of volunteerism and community is fantastic.

My team’s key remit is to connect people to opportunities and to ensure they feel supported whether they’re a brand new business or an established business. We try to give them access to the best data to make good business decisions.

Often business owners are busy working in the business rather than on the business. So we run events to share information and data, connect people with experts, and give them opportunities to put their heads up and see what’s happening around them. We also offer ways for businesses and business owners to be engaged in the community to unlock their potential and our region’s opportunity.

Tell us about the events you run to bring the community together?

We are fortunate to fund our operational team through running the Caloundra Markets. These include the Caloundra Street Fair held each Sunday in Bulcock Street, the Currimundi Twilight Markets held on the third Friday of the month, and the Caloundra Twilight Markets held on the last Friday of the month.

On the 22nd of June we are also starting a new farmer’s market in Aura and soon an Aura Twilight Market on the first Friday of the month. These markets connect our community, drive foot traffic to existing businesses and help support microbusinesses.

The markets stimulate the local economy and encourage tourists to come to the region. Some businesses started in the market and are now successful e-commerce or bricks and mortar businesses here in Caloundra and across the Sunshine Coast.

We also run business events. Every second month we have Business After Hours, a ticketed casual networking event for around 80 to 100 people. It includes food and drink, an update on what is happening and a chance to network and socialise. We also run monthly coffee catch-ups and we normally have a waitlist for these as they’re very popular.

We’ve always been known for our Breakfast of Champions, an educational and inspirational event that attracts over 300 people annually.

We believe we have a responsibility to support everyone across the business lifecycle. We aim to look after everyone from pre-entrepreneurs to start-ups and scaling businesses.

At the other end of the cycle, we aim to keep established, successful business people engaged in continuing to grow their business and our broader business community through sharing their business experience. We even reach out to re-engage retired members in our community to draw on their backgrounds and successful careers.

How many members do you have, what types of businesses do they run and how do you help them?

We’re lucky to have over 300 members from a range of industries and we have ongoing interest in new membership every year. Being in business is not always easy, and we’re all about supporting businesses to be successful. That said, not every new member is a new business. We often have long-term businesses in our area joining as they have seen the benefit of the Chamber and in the last few years have seen a lot of businesses join who are expanding or shifting into our region.

Businesses use us as a way to find others like them. It’s a sharing community that gives back and supports. We embrace a welcoming, giving mentality, so if everyone does well around you, then you will do well as well.

Most businesses want to give back to the community too and a lot of small businesses are generous. We help stimulate ideas and help businesses connect and tell their stories.

Tell us about some of your recent successes?

Caloundra has been a tourism-focused economy for a long time. We ran a campaign last year to win the top tourism town which gave us significant branding rights. It is great for investment attraction, as well as local pride. We were only able to do that because we had the great staff and community support to run the campaign.

You have a long history having been established in 1947. What has changed over that time in terms of the issues businesses face and the service you provide?

Our organisation has been lucky to mature from a capacity point of view. We have always had a good intent, but that increasing experience has allowed us a better connection to government and capacity to provide additional support to members.

For businesses, I think the biggest change has been the new opportunities that growth has brought to the region, which have brought confidence and investment.

Historically, the Sunshine Coast did not have a broad range of employment sectors. You had to go away to work in certain industries. But there has been significant investment across new sectors in recent years. For instance, insurance, health and food manufacturing have both provided hundreds of new jobs.

There is a real benefit of e-commerce too, it provides businesses a broader market outside their direct region, allowing people to live here in a place they love like Caloundra but have clients anywhere in the world.

What are the biggest challenges Caloundra businesses are facing?

It’s been an interesting five years with the pandemic and economic crisis, social change, cost of living pressures and big population changes, and all that brings both risk and reward.

Our region is growing. By 2026, we’ll have over 550,000 people living on the Sunshine Coast. One of the most important things is making sure we have the right infrastructure – like public transportation and a good range of affordable housing.

This is an amazing place to live, but we need to be able to provide housing for all sections of our community. One of the most important things we need to consider as a region is how we can provide diverse housing and transport options that allow us to grow in a sustainable way that maintains our livability. We need to have open conversations about who we are now and who we want to be in 20 years time, and what our value proposition is as a region.

We believe investing in property or business here is a great idea. Not only is it a great place to live, but the region is seeing significant investment in many sectors and major projects and technology now allows you to do business anywhere in the world.

How can people get involved or join the Caloundra Chamber of Commerce and Industry?

We recommend you become a financial member of your local chamber of commerce wherever you are located! If you’re here in Caloundra we’d love to meet you.

You can see all our events on our website, and also join as a member at our website from just $20 a month just visit caloundrachamber.com.au.

Thanks for the chat, Brady, and the support the Chamber of Commerce and Industry offers our community.

Caloundra City Realty

Article by Caloundra City Realty

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