Small businesses in Mullumbimby who were recently evicted by the government-funded ‘solutions provider’ NORTEC three weeks before Christmas are asking why CLIC, who will be taking over the site from NORTEC, can’t let them stay on.
‘There doesn’t seem to be any reason that we have to move from the site,’ said Cara Langoulant, who set up her business Attara, a perfumery, at the incubator site in September under the guidance of NORTEC.
‘The community college and CLIC have the option to at least have a stay of execution; it doesn’t need to be carried through in this timeframe. There are five of us left with nowhere to go.’
NORTEC won’t respond
Alison Pearl, chair of CLIC, has pointed out that CLIC was instrumental in securing an extra two weeks for tenants at the Mullumbimby site, unlike those at the Byron and Goonellabah sites.
‘We since have been asking NORTEC that they consider giving further assistance for businesses in transition who have to leave but are struggling to find alternative accommodation. So far there is no response.’
Limited affordable rents
The group of Mullumbimby businesses have highlighted the limited commercial spaces available locally along with cost and short transition times, and state in a press release to The Echo that ‘Current tenants simply want a fair transition period and clarity regarding the opportunity to apply to be part of the new incubator.’
The small businesses being evicted believe that CLIC could do more to assist them.
‘All entities including Byron Shire Council and CLIC are ducking for cover and painting NORTEC as the only responsible body,’ they say in their press release.
‘They [CLIC] would prefer a clean start with all existing businesses and not-for-profits being collateral damage.’
In response CLIC have pointed out that they have ‘no history or responsibility for any of the licence arrangements in Mullumbimby’ under NORTEC.
‘Once the site is cleared by NORTEC, CLIC, without NORTEC, will then be in a position to quickly and sustainably upgrade buildings neglected by NORTEC and, as soon as practicably possible, to implement new business-incubation plans under its own arrangements for best future practice,’ continued Alison.
‘Even though it cannot do anything about NORTEC’s licence termination arrangements, CLIC will ensure that all future tenancy on the Mullumbimby site will have fair and mutually understood arrangements for small businesses selected, such as their coming to and leaving from the site respectfully.’
The Echo contacted NORTEC but received no response.