by Jacob Carson
MICHAEL Read admits it's taken a while - far too long in fact - for the business owners of Rainbow Beach to come together in the name of common good and mutual support.
But after years of competitiveness, factions and divisions between business owners, the thinking has changed.
That maybe, just maybe, they're better off working together than constant one-upmanship.
"The goal, basically, is to highlight the Rainbow community and create a network to promote tourism and build business in the area,” Mr Read said.
The network, Team Rainbow Beach, arose out of frustrations many proprietors in the area were feeling.
Mr Read said there was a growing perception that resources were only being allocated to a small fraction of businesses operating at Rainbow Beach.
"It has a knock-on effect, like with the triathlon here,” he said.
"The organisers were on the verge of shutting up shop because they said business owners were treating them poorly - we've managed to keep them here by promising they'll be looked after.”
The necessary change in culture has energised business owners, particularly those just starting out in the area.
And despite the long time it took for the group to actually materialise, the timing has been fortunate as investors are looking at the Sunshine Coast and Rainbow Beach in particular as the next boom town for Queensland.
"It's an encouraging sign for the area when Rainbow is being called the next Byron Bay,” Mr Read said.
"Things are on the up and up for the community, the numbers for the holiday period have doubled from the year previous.”
A public call-out for interested parties saw 78 people show up to a community meeting, a number that floored Mr Read.
By pooling money, Team Rainbow Beach has also hired a marketing manager, Dr Daryl Gauld OAM, who has won accolades for his innovative approach to community building and work across Australia.
The next step for the team is to bridge the divide with the Rainbow Beach Commerce and Tourism Committee, with the end goal that the team continues as a sub-committee.
"We understand that we'll never have 100% of the businesses on board with the idea.
"The meetings we've had have always been incredibly positive and supportive - we're not interested in it becoming a negative thing,” Mr Read said.
As the region heads into the cooler and traditionally quieter months, Team Rainbow Beach is showing no sign of slowing down.
There's already talk of photo shoots and interest from international clients.
"It's time for a whole new community, we're very excited,” Mr Read said.