Valley traders are doing it tough amid a traditionally quiet election time, a slow winter season and rising unemployment.
But Moe Traders Association secretary Susan Broadbent said businesses just had to ride the wave, with talk of transition and attracting big businesses signs of a positive future.
“We’re constantly asking people to shop local and we’ve just got to hang in there and ride through it,” Ms Broadbent said.
“It is a tough time, but there are a lot of positives.
“We have a few developments on the go here, so we are going to grow and we have got people, our groups and council, working with government to try and get bigger business here to create more jobs.”
Traralgon Chamber of Commerce president Darren Howe said the traders he had spoken with were not fairing well, particularly in the last three to four weeks.
He could not pinpoint just one influencing factor, but said “if people don’t have jobs, they don’t have money, they’re not going to be spending”.
He said about 10 people came into his Traralgon newsagency each week genuinely looking for work, but he wasn’t in a position to employ more people unless a staff member left.
Mr Howe is hopeful the $40 million State Government fund to diversify Latrobe Valley’s economy will help create more jobs, “so let’s use it”.
Likewise, Morwell trader Shane Dunn said a funding injection into the area would help create jobs.
His Tarwin Street bike shop employs four people and takes in about two to three work experience students each year.
Mr Dunn said he’d be struggling if he relied on Morwell foot traffic alone, but fortunately a steady flow of customers travelled from across Gippsland.
The rising unemployment rate is not a surprise for Mr Dunn, who has lived in the Valley his entire life and is taking notice of changing industries.
He says he wants to keep his family where he, himself, grew up, but isn’t sure about staying where there are few opportunities.
“I’m an hour away from the snow, I’m an hour away from the beach, I’m an hour away from the city and it’s not a bad place here, I don’t mind it,” he said.
“But if there’s no work here for my family, for my kids that are growing up… do I leave my kids here with no opportunity?
“Or do I move away to an area where the unemployment rate is low and business is thriving and the Federal Government’s spending?”