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Welcome to our bi-weekly Greater Knysna Business Chamber update, with the latest news and opportunities for businesses in Greater Knysna.  Quite a long one, as lots is happening!

In this edition:
Increased Rates & Taxes - and follow up meetings with Knysna Municipality;
Tourism and the way forward - Where we are now;
Coffee Podium – THU July 29 at Elegant Tshisanyama;
Deep water sampling in the Knysna Estuary - A joint effort!;
The Knysna Oyster Festival Limited Edition - #wfk and join the fun!;
Business Breakfast Seminars - Sometime in August and ...;
GRDM tenders - firefighters, fire station construction and regional waste;
District based approach addressing service delivery challenges - Draft FYI;
KILT and 'job shadowing' - Postponed until later;
Remember the Skills College opening in Knysna? - You can enrol NOW!
GREATER KNYSNA BUSINESS CHAMBER NEWS
Rates & Taxes and follow up meetings with Knysna Municipality

Several of our members have raised concerns about the exorbitant increases in Rates & Taxes from the 1st of July 2021 for certain property sections/owners, in particular 32% for business vacant land, 76.8% for accommodation establishments with max. 8 lettable rooms and 120% for private open space.  The general increase in Rates & Taxes has been approved at 6.1%.

Sedgefield Ratepayers' Association and GKBC

Two separate meetings took place between Knysna Municipality (Executive Mayor Elrick van Aswegen, Municipal Manager Dawid Adonis and Chief Financial Officer Jacque Carstens), Sedgefield Ratepayers' Association (Keith Killops and Clifford Ellion, also Director GKBC) and the Greater Knysna Business Chamber (Chair Pierre Gouws, Vice Chair Richard Sohn and Office Administrator Ypie Kingma). 

The process followed was discussed at length: once a draft budget is tabled at Council it gets advertised for public comment.  Comments were received in writing by individuals as well as Home Owners' Associations and other members' organizations but also through ward committees and public meetings.  The Mayoral Committee takes all comments into account and recommends to Council, after which Council approved the Final Budget.  The Final Budget consequently got published for noting only.  While the public can comment on the Draft/Tabled Budget, there is no opportunity to comment on the adjusted draft and consequently published Final Budget.

The reasoning behind major increases for vacant land and open spaces was explained as wanting to to bring those rates' categories in line with business tariffs, thereby effectively supporting businesses who contribute to the economy (by building on land, employed people in their businesses etc.) instead of subsidizing land owners who are seen as simply speculating with the land.  The Mayor referred to the current Budget as a 'pro-poor budget' on several instances, reminding the meeting Council needs to work keeping all sectors in society in mind during planning and execution.

KAA and GKBC

A separate meeting took place between Knysna Municipality (Executive Mayor Elrick van Aswegen, Chair Portfolio Committee Economic Development Mncedisi Skosana) and the Knysna Accommodation Association (Chair Kevin Cross, Treasurer Kevin Jackes and Marketing Co-ordinator Colleen Harding) where the GKBC was represented by Office Administrator Ypie Kingma.

While questions were raised about future plans with regards to tourism and marketing of the town, the main concern focused on the 76.8% increase in rates and taxes for 'Accommodation Establishments where the number of lettable rooms is equal to or less than 8'.  It was established that there is a discrepancy between the Budget Policies which get approved before the Final Budget where a 40% rebate for that category accommodation establishments is stipulated.

A motivation to implement the 40% rebate retroactively is currently jointly being drafted by the KAA and GKBC to be presented to Council at the earliest possible opportunity.  The Mayor confirmed he would support said motivation.
 
Another issue touched upon is the substantial number of small accommodation establishments which run their business without the proper business registration and/or zoning.  This was flagged as unfair competition for those establishments which operate within the law and local regulations. 
Tourism and the way forward. Where we are now.

After the Chamber's initial meeting with the Mayor and MM end of May there has been further engagement with the Municipality (Municipal Manager Mr. Dawid Adonis and Director Planning & Economic Development Ms. Marlene Boyce), and representatives from the Knysna Accommodation Association (Marketing Co-ordinator Colleen Harding), Wesgro/Visit Knysna Advisory or Steering Committee (Chris Schutte, Evelyn Pepler – also Directors of the GKBC), and the Greater Knysna Business Chamber (Chair Pierre Gouws, Vice Chair Richard Sohn, Director Elmay Bouwer and Office Administrator Ypie Kingma). 

With the end of the current contract with Wesgro coming to an end at the end of October, the main aim of the meeting was to get insight in what has been planned for after the 23rd of October, and how the private sector can provide input, being one of – if not the – main stakeholder to be affected by the outcome. 
Director Boyce confirmed working on the specifications focusing on the running of the local tourism info office, running of events and marketing.  As this will go out to tender, one of the concerns raised is the time frame in which this would happen and a possible gap this would leave should the process not be concluded by the 23rd of October.  A second concern is that the major local stakeholders like the KAA, Wesgro Steering Committee or GKBC have not been consulted regarding what the requirements would need to be for the best possible outcome.  A higher-level engagement in this regard has been taking place with the likes of DEDAT and WC Government.

While different possible options going forward were put on the table, it was decided further engagement would be required to decide the best way forward.  This is planned to take place middle, latest end of July.
Coffee Podium – THU July 29 at Elegant Tshisanyama

Our next Coffee Podium is planned to be at Elegant Tshisanyama in Concordia on Thursday July 29.  Up to 10 businesses will have the opportunity to present themselves to the audience in semi speed-marketing session of max. 5 minutes – no duplicate type of businessses.  While this opportunity will be open to members as well as non-members, members will get preference.

Coffee Podium includes coffee, a muffin and great networking opportunities.  R60 p.p. for paid up members, R80 p.p. for future members.  Please note numbers will be limited, so booking is essential – email info@gkbc.co.za to reserve your spot!
PLEASE NOTE: Should gatherings not be permitted under the then current Covid-regulations, the networking event will be postponed until the last Thursday in August, being the 26th.  Keep an eye out for updates on the GKBC facebook page.
Deep water sampling in the Knysna Estuary.  A joint effort!

The estuary is a crucial part of our ecosystem and influencing the economic wellbeing of our town and residents through commercial and leisure activities on and around the water.  It is therefore of utmost importance that the quality of the water gets monitored and remedial action taken should that be necessary. 
The GKBC has recognized the inability of the Knysna Municipality to continue funding deep water sampling executed by SANParks, as was done previously.   We are therefore extremely grateful for the donation made towards deep water sampling in the Knysna Estuary by one of our 'supporters' who made it possible to continue the deep water sampling on a monthly basis for the next 12 months going forward.
 
The first samples will be taken tomorrow and we're hoping to share some pictures on facebook and in our next newsletter.  Through these joint efforts we can make a difference!  Thank you once again!
Make your voice count!

Join the Greater Knysna Business Chamber from as little as R250 per annum, depending on the number of permanent employees in your company.   Membership is valid for a year, from the month of joining (if paid by the 15th) or the next month (if paid on the 16th or later).  

You know what to do... :)
MEMBER APPLICATION FORM
The Knysna Oyster Festival Limited Edition: #wfk and join the fun!

Re-imagining how to keep the iconic Garden Route festival on the 2021 events calendar, the Knysna Oyster Festival Committee is proud to bring to you the safe and fully level 4 compliant Knysna Oyster Festival "Limited Edition" experience.  It is the perfect family getaway, with members of the same household and family unit permitted to partake in a world of experiences together.  The Knysna Oyster Festival programme was always designed with the pandemic in mind and thanks to this approach, the team has been able to seamlessly adapt to offer families an experience-rich and rewarding holiday. To those living in the Western and Eastern Cape - why would you #WFH (work from home) when you can #WFK (work from Knysna)?

The above sums up the latest press release as sent out by the festival organizers last week (click here to read the whole release).

Businesses are encouraged to 'dress up' their premises or shop window, in a collective effort to create a festive atmosphere and making our visitors feel even more welcome! 
Bunting is available from the House of Trendi but must be ordered.  Please get creative and start decorating our towns!  It is upon all of us to make the town look inviting and festive!  #KOF2021
Business Breakfast Seminars.  Sometime in August and ...

We were hoping to give you further details on the first Business Breakfast planned for August as mentioned in our last newsletter.  You'll have to be patient, but it is coming! 
 
There is more in the pipeline, which we will communicate in due course through our newsletters and social media.
INDUSTRY NEWS AND UPDATES
GRDM tenders: firefighters, fire station construction and regional waste.
 
The Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) has issued the following tenders:
  • GRDM/27/20-21: Provision of specialist wildland firefighting ground crews for the fire services for a period of three years;
  • GRDM/28/20-21: Principal agent for fire station construction project;
  • GRDM/29/20-21: Provision of professional services for the design, drafting of tender documentation and contract supervision for the new regional waste management facility and associated infrastructure to be established for the Garden Route District Municipality.
Advert can be found here;
Regional Waste Management facility etc. tender document can be downloaded here (deadline July 30),
Agent for Fire Station Construction Project tender document can be found here (deadline July 30), and the
Specialist Wildland Firefighting Ground Crew tender document is here (deadline August 13).
Garden Route District and service delivery challenges.  Draft plan FYI.

The Garden Route District Municipality is working on an integrated district based approach to address service delivery challenges.  From the President's Budget Speech in 2019 when this approach was first announced until now the different local municipalities and the District Municipality have worked towards a more aligned process. 

The private sector is encouraged to participate through the different Business Chambers in the region, and as such the GKBC also receives regular updates and gets invited to regional meetings with relevance to our local economy. 

The latest in such engagements has been regarding the Joint District and Metro Approach (JDMA) for the Implementation Plan of the Garden Route District.  The Draft JDMA includes intended interventions of the Garden Route District Recovery plan.
TRAINING AND FUNDING
KILT and 'job shadowing' postponed until later.

KILT (Knysna Initiative for Learning and Teaching) recently approached the GKBC in their effort in assisting learners to find job shadowing placement during school holidays.  Although this is a great way to show the next generation possibilities within our business community, with the current increase in covid cases it was decided to postpone this until a later stage. 
Remember the Skills College opening in Knysna?  You can enrol NOW!

The excitement on social media (see original post below) was palpable when we reported earlier this year about he Skills College opening soon in Knysna.  Although covid has caused delays, the Africa Skills College Knysna Campus is going from strength to strength. 

Applications to enrol have been opened, including exciting courses for electricians, fibre and solar installers and Amazon coding, to name a few.  For a full program, price list and requirements to be enrolled, have a look at https://africaskills.co.za/campus/knysna/

We are super excited for Zelda and her team and will keep you updated on further progress.
Enjoy this Wonderful Wednesday or what's left of it!
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Directors: Pierre Gouws (Chair) | Richard Sohn (Vice) | Andries Fourie (Treasurer) | Evelyn Pepler | 
Elmay Bouwer | Jason White | Mark Sofianos | Chris Schutte | Hermann Kapp | Martin Hansson | Clifford Elion | Megan Taplin | Office Administrator: Ypie Kingma






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Greater Knysna Business Chamber · Greater Knysna Business Chamber · Knysna, WC 6570 · South Africa

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