“Penrith is about to become the third city [in Sydney]. It’s a glorious time for business, but we need to be smart.”
Penrith Valley Chamber of Commerce president Wayne “Willmo” Willmington has shared his vision for the city over the next 12 months after being handed the reins of the organisation last week.
The well-known Vintage FM managing director and lifetime local said he was excited about taking on the job from former president Gina Field, who stepped down at the chamber’s AGM after three years in the role.
“I have had a lot of years of experience in Penrith as a businessperson with different types of businesses. I understand business in Penrith,” Mr Willmington said.
Named Penrith’s Citizen of the Year for 2016, Mr Willmington is also a member of the Forum on Western Sydney Airport (FOWSA), which connects “the community, the government and the airport developer during planning and development of the Western Sydney Airport”, according to a statement on its website. It was established to provide a “communication channel for the community’s engagement in the development of the airport and ensure the community’s views are taken into account”.
“Penrith is now on the cusp of this whole aerotropolos being created by [Western Sydney Airport], and Penrith businesses need to think smarter,” he said. “There is going to be a lot more opportunities and business around and people need to think about their future, and guiding the future.
“We need to plan and the business community needs to plan. Other areas near the airport like Liverpool and their chamber and their council want everyone to go there; we need to make sure that we have a presence.
“Because I am involved a little bit with the airport, I can hopefully give some insights into things that are happening.”
With the chamber celebrating its 90th birthday this year, Mr Wilmington said now was the perfect time for renewal in the organisation and welcomed the new faces on its board.
“We have so many new board members, and a lot of first time board members,” he said. “For the first time in its history, 10 people stood for five positions at the AGM.”
Among the new ideas he is bringing to the table is tasking more sub-committees with implementation of new ideas, and making the chamber more of a vehicle to drive the region’s tourism.
“Tourism is business,” he said. “We can promote Penrith as a business centre and a tourism centre, and link it more efficiently.
“The chamber should be the vehicle to bring everything together to have one peak body that looks after it all.”
Mr Willimngton said he had been “overwhelmed” with messages and calls of support since his election, and was taking on many suggestions.
“It’s not about me doing all the work, we have so many talented people on the board and a great mix of talents,” he said.
“It’s exciting. Penrith is here.”