Steve Horton is a passionate man.
And he is passionate about the Southern Highlands.
Steve is the new chairman for the Southern Highlands Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SHCCI).
He and his wife Laurel have had businesses in the Southern Highlands for more than 25 years.
They opened their first business, a gift store, at the Old Cheese Factory in Robertson.
Since then they have opened The Brown Shutter gift store and Steve has also opened The Bay Tree Gallery with his son Luke.
Steve was one of the founding members of the SHCCI and before that was president of Berrima Business Houses.
As the new chairman, Steve said he wanted to give the chamber a stronger voice in the Highlands and encourage more community involvement.
“I feel that the chamber can be a strong voice for business in the Southern Highlands. The chamber can deliver leadership to support and facilitate business and this in turn improves the quality of life for the wider community,” he said.
“I want to encourage broad community involvement and build a chamber that has relevance and tangible, positive outcomes.”
With a background in strategic planning and business improvement coupled with a passion for improving the Southern Highlands, Steve said he believed he could have a positive impact on how the chamber operates and works with businesses in the area.
Not prepared to settle with the way things are, Steve believes in a positive and active approach to improving businesses in the Highlands.
“It’s no good complaining, we need to be prepared to challenge those things that are not working and work towards improvements,” he said.
“I want to see two things in particular change- a more interested and active business community in terms of participation with the chamber [and] I think there has for some time been a disconnect between certain sectors of the business community and council.”
Steve said communication was one of the most important things to improve if progress was to continue in the Highlands.
“If business does not tell us what it wants or needs or what problems it is facing, how can we help?”
Over the next 12 months, the chamber will finalise its constitution as well as develop a communication strategy.
A marketing strategy will also be part of the changes in near future which will aim to work with Destination Southern Highlands to increase the appeal of the Highlands the number of visitors.
There are currently just over 200 members in the SHCCI.