Prior to 2010

Prior to 2010 various business women around Merimbula hosted a one hour event at their place of business with each host explaining how and why they were in business. Then in September 2010 Simone Ficht and Cathy Foster hosted the first meeting in the Poppy’s Cafe courtyard at Merimbula, and called the group Women in Business on the Sapphire Coast.


Around 2013-2014 the group went into hibernation until Feb 2015.
Julie Novotny re-activated the group with breakfast meetings in Merimbula.


Julie Novotny re-activated the group with breakfast meetings in Merimbula.

In mid-2015 the group name was changed to ‘Sapphire Coast Business Women‘ (SCBW) and monthly networking breakfasts were held at The Wharf Restaurant in Merimbula.

In Dec 2015 Julie went on to register the business, created a website, business cards and started to really promote the business by visiting a large number of retailers and businesses from Tilba to Eden.  As a result SCBW ended up meeting 4 times a month on Wednesdays, alternating each week between Bermagui, Merimbula, Bega, and Eden.

2016 – 2017

Due to the rapid growth of the group and the number of hours spent working on it, Julie gave up some of her other business interests so as to focus on building the group further.

In November 2016 the group name was updated to Sapphire Coast Business Networking (SCBN) to allow for mixed networking and workshops for both Men and Women in 2017 and beyond.

2017 – 2018

2017 saw the introduction of Lunch & Learns, through the winter months as well as a very successful ‘Pamper Me’ day along with a Small Business Expo.
Then in Dec 2017 the website underwent an upgrade along with a change in the membership levels. This will allow members to choose between 3 different membership options and find the level that best suits their individual business needs.

2018 – 2019

2018 saw a mix of promotional opportunities for businesses with the new website and regular emails going out through the data base to over 850 subscribers on the Sapphire Coast.

There was also a range of introductory workshops on WordPress and Social Media, as well as a couple of larger business events – ‘Pamper Me‘ day followed by a ‘JUST NETWORKING’ social event mid year at the Longstocking Brewery in Pambula.

Networking Breakfasts and B2B networking events offered support to local businesses, allowing everyone to enjoy each other’s company while having the opportunity to network. Then we ended the year with a Christmas event at The Wharf Merimbula.

2019 Vision

In Jan 2019 we took the initiative to re-brand SCBN and changed the name from ‘Sapphire Coast Business Networking’ to ‘Local Business Connections’ (LBConnections) Connecting & Promoting LOCAL Businesses for better COLLABORATION

This has now enabled us to re-develop the business model with the following updates planned for 2019

  1. LOCAL BUSINESS DIRECTORY & CALENDAR OF EVENTS: Re-develop the current website into a primary website that will host individual LOCAL businesses directories within regional communities.
    • These would become satellite sites based on Local Councils (i.e. ‘Bega Valley’, ‘Illawarra’, ‘Eurobodalla’, East Gipsland’, ‘Snowy Monaro’ etc…)
    • These satellite sites will allow businesses; within those communities better CONNECTIONS to their local businesses and to one another.
    • Each satellite site will have a local calendar of events and will act as the ‘GO TO’ hub of information about the LOCAL communities that they represent.
  2. ‘SHOP LOCAL’ DISOUNT CARD: Develop a ‘Shop LOCAL’ discount card to encourage memberships and to be able to offer additional support and COLLABORATION within the LOCAL business community.
    • Use ‘LBConnections/BegaValley’ as the prototype to iron out any bugs etc.. before releasing into other localities.
  3. ON-LINE LOCAL BUSINESS QUOTING PLATFORM: Further development would include a LOCAL business platform that will allow people to submit ‘Requests for Quotes’ giving the LOCAL businesses the opportunity to reply quickly, easily and safely to customers that are looking for assistance from within their individual businesses (e.g. users requesting web designer, accountant services, graphic design etc.)

2020 Vision

Well 2020 will be a year to remember in more ways than one!

For me the end of 2019 ended with a knee replacement in late Oct. and a planned a 3mth break which would take me to Feb. Then the fires hit the Bega Valley Shire with such vengeance that there were no tourists coming into the area. My recovery was slower than I imagined it would be and all in all I found myself not very motivated to continue with the business.

So with the business still on hold I went to work helping the Merimbula Chamber to assist the local businesses in their recovery. This was only going to be short term position, as  a health issue with my husband changed the way ahead for us both and we had planned to head off on a big caravan trip stating in April 2020.

But then came the Covid 19 and now more than ever we need to support each other during these uncertain times.

So after finishing up with the Chamber and then a few weeks of isolation and with the need to SHOP LOCAL | GROW LOCAL now being more important than ever, what better time for a LOCAL Business Directory and LOCAL Events Calendar to become available to the Local Community. So with renewed enthusiasm I am now re-building on some of the 2019 ideas and looking forward to working together once again with a number of the local businesses.

Remember that there is light at the end of the tunnel and Local Business Connections would like to help you get through this terrible time by working together with you. As the storm passes we will all find new ways of running our businesses, but we need to stay connected, more than ever before.

Stay Safe and Stay Strong.