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The need for a positive and optimistic attitude in Lakes Entrance and more government investment in infrastructure and tourism promotion were key themes at a forum hosted on Sunday by Federal MP Darren Chester.

Mr Chester convened the meeting at the request of several local business owners, concerned by the large number of business closures in recent months.

It was attended by State MP Tim Bull, East Gippsland Shire Mayor Joe Rettino, Lakes Entrance Action and Development Association President Shane Kidd and business representatives.

“The idea behind the forum was to canvas local issues and to start charting a plan forward with short, medium and longer term actions,” Mr Chester said.

“There is a lot of concern about the downturn in local business conditions and I’m keen to work with all levels of government and the business community in the interests of helping the Lakes Entrance economy grow.

“Following the discussions on Sunday, I undertook to work with Tim Bull and Joe Rettino and report back to the group and the wider Lakes Entrance community on a range of steps we can take together to improve our town.

“We need to work together to help ourselves but at the same time, I believe all levels of government can do more to support and sustain local job growth in key industries like tourism and commercial fishing.

“There’s significant work planned with highway upgrades and seawall replacement but our tourism product needs an overhaul and we need to get better at selling our story to the nation.

“Freshly caught local seafood, pristine beaches, lakes, rivers and amazing native wildlife are all part of the package which needs to be promoted to boost the visitor economy and businesses need to work in partnership to make it happen.”

Mr Chester said he expected to host another forum with sporting and service club leaders and the wider community in coming weeks to discuss ways to work together to promote living, working and holidaying in the region.

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