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Business representatives in Kyogle have voted to officially support next September’s Repco Rally Australia and work on ways to achieve the economic benefits it offers.

Kyogle and District Chamber of Commerce took the decision on Tuesday, following presentations by rally officials and community meetings in the Shire last week.

“The Chamber held community meetings around the Kyogle Shire last week and there was a clear message from a majority of attendees that the Chamber should actively voice its support for the proposed rally,” said Lynette Zito, the organisation’s President.

Repco Rally Australia, round 10 of the 2009 World Rally Championship, will be staged on 3-6 September in the Kyogle and Tweed Shires in northern New South Wales.

Sharing the spotlight with Formula 1 at the very peak of world motorsport, the WRC will bring a large contingent of competing teams, supporters, media and fans to this part of Australia for the first time.

Kyogle will be the centre of international media attention on the final day of the rally when it hosts a service break for the competing cars before they tackle the last and possibly deciding closed-road special stage.

Ms Zito said the Chamber of Commerce meeting on Tuesday, attended by Repco Rally Australia’s General Manager Gary Upson and Operations Manager Bob Newman, attracted vigorous discussion.

“There was vigorous discussion about the proposed routes and spectator points, expected numbers of visitors and officials to Kyogle and how the Development Application process was progressing,” Ms Zito said.

“The Chamber members discussed how businesses are still recovering from the impact of the floods last year and the Norply fire before that. Many of the members present said that they did not think that they would benefit in the short term from the proposed rally, but recognised there would be some businesses that would, such as food, accommodation, fuel and logistics suppliers.

“Members were of the opinion that a strong business community can support a strong Kyogle community and the community has indicated a willingness to build fund-raising activities around the event.

“We are concerned that local business is being accused of only seeing dollar signs and the Chamber has received letters from people who have threatened to boycott shopping in Kyogle if we support the proposed rally.

“We are much bigger-picture than that. The Kyogle and District Chamber of Commerce did not ask the proposed rally to come here, but now that they are looking to hold this international event in our location we are looking at what we want to make of it.

“We are currently in discussions with the North East Waste Forum about managing localised activities as a Waste Wise event and the School of Tourism Management at Southern Cross University about opportunities for students.”

A number of Kyogle and District Chamber of Commerce members live along the proposed rally route.

Rally Australia’s Gary Upson welcomed the Kyogle Chamber’s vote of support and encouraged other community bodies to do the same.

“From our many regular contacts throughout the community, we know there is strong support for Rally Australia and the benefits it will bring to the region,” Mr Upson said.

“But these views are not necessarily being heard, so we urge other groups to follow the example of Kyogle and District Chamber of Commerce in recording their support and through press releases, contacts or letters to the media, making sure everyone knows about it.”

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