A bright vision for a new precinct

By Jack Hayes

Last month’s news that the CBD’s business community was set to welcome a new precinct group, the Melbourne City North Business Association (MCNBA), has been welcomed as local businesses plan their post COVID-19 recovery. 

As reported in the September edition of CBD News, the MCNBA will be spearheaded by inaugural president, Christina Zhao (pictured top), who can now reveal the make-up of the precinct’s executive committee and their vision to build a thriving business community. 

Working alongside Ms Zhao will be vice president Nolan Taing (pictured below), vice president Tony Shu, secretary Ethan Zheng, and committee members, Jason Song, Tina Jian and Michael Zuo. 

All small business owners in their own right, the committee represents a host of industries including public relations, retail, hospitality, e-commerce and manufacturing. 

The MCNBA’s geographic catchment will comprise businesses from Russell to Queen streets and Lonsdale to Victoria streets, excluding those within the Queen Victoria Market as they fall under a separate council funding scheme, but will include key nodes such as QV, Emporium and Melbourne Central. 

According to Ms Zhao the MCNBA is understood to have secured 90 official members to date, with the aim to increase that number to 120 by year’s end, and 160 members at the close of 2022. 

With stakeholder engagement and the development of a harmonious precinct at their forefront, Mr Taing said the key to driving “efficient responsiveness and decision making” is ensuring community development happens in the right way and within the broader scope of City of Melbourne precinct plan. 

“It’s a common misconception that the value of engagement lies within the size of its members. At City North, we do believe that this is also important, but we hold its depth of engagement as more significant,” Mr Taing said. 

 “We aim to give community members a place to express themselves. Members and residents love to talk and most importantly talk about things that matter to them.”

“This is what we will encourage most, make it easy for our community to tell their stories, share their experiences and help grow their business. This also makes community building and engagement an excellent tool for retention.”

According to Mr Taing, successful associations and communities are unpinned by responsive interactions and a noted importance placed on connection between members and locals to get involved with the wider strategy. 

The MCNBA will look to celebrate the precinct’s official launch with an event at one of its many hospitality member venues when COVID-19 restrictions allow.  

As for future precinct events, the MCNBA is currently in talks with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra to hold a “Happy Hour Concert Series”. 

“The Happy Hour Concert Series will be aimed at creating pop-up musical experiences within CBD office towers, as a way of increasing foot traffic back to the city,” Ms Zhao said.  “The target audience will not only be office workers, with the aim of encouraging people to return to the office, but also general visitation, like people coming into the city for dinner.” 

The MCNBA will aim to actively promote the precinct to the wider community through various marketing channels, with both online and offline events, seeing momentum already evident through the word-of-mouth campaign generating enough members for official precinct endorsement.

“In order to disperse the pressure on population density in other areas of the CBD, we need to attract more merchants to form a business circle in the North district,” Mr Shu said. 

“Our association will use our new promotion model that is different from the traditional promotion models to let local residents understand the characteristics of the City North business district and come to the area for more consumption.”

“Let Melbourne North City truly become an attractive, energetic, new-generation CBD business district with the blessing and the aid of technology.” •

For more information: [email protected]

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