There has been a lot of talk about uncertainty and lack of direction in the current business environment and I think it's useful to separate uncertainty from change because they are not necessarily the same thing.

While ideally business enjoys an environment that has certainty and a clear pathway or framework in which to operate, change is a constant that many not only accept but embrace.

Another thing about change is that without change, not only within organisations but also with new people entering the marketplace, there is no way to refresh and grow our business communities.

For this reason alone, it has been great to see the changing face of business within the CBD over the past few years. At first glance it looks like the space is still occupied by the usual suspects, those businesses that have always been there or that one would naturally expect to find there.

Trish Ford of Raor Beauty & Fitness Studio in Kamo, one of many new businesses to establish in Whangārei in recent years. Photo / File
Trish Ford of Raor Beauty & Fitness Studio in Kamo, one of many new businesses to establish in Whangārei in recent years. Photo / File

Yet when you look closer there has been a change that, although subtle, at first is now pretty apparent when you walk through the city centre.

The face of business is getting younger, much more diverse and is a much better reflection of the community in which it operates. This is great for so many reasons.

It means many young people have the confidence and belief in Whangārei and Northland to invest their time, passion and future here. That we have people returning or coming to the region from other parts of New Zealand and world bringing a fresh perspective and new ideas as to what the market wants and what high quality service is.

If we can ensure this environment is attractive - not only from an amenity perspective but through council policy and competitive property costs - then it will only encourage more of these businesses to take up the challenge.

It takes a lot of energy to run a business particularly in the CBD which in the past has experienced several external and internal issues that have at times made it quite challenging to operate in.

Many of the longer-established businesses can probably remember what it was like in the past - perhaps through rose-tinted glasses - and the good old days when everything was better.

For the new businesses and these new business people, what they see today when the open their business is the only environment they have experienced so this is the norm for them. They see opportunity, they see potential for future growth and a vibrant centre which they want to be part of. It is change and that's good.

■ Tony Collins is the Northland Chamber of Commerce's chief executive.