Act now or lose it all

“URGENT PLANNING NEED”: Kerren Smith in his Gympie workshop.
“URGENT PLANNING NEED”: Kerren Smith in his Gympie workshop. Craig Warhurst

GYMPIE has to act urgently to take control of its destiny, according to leading Gympie industrialist and innovator Kerren Smith.

And that means now, he says, or opportunities will pass us by.

Mr Smith, who is chairman of the Australian Industry, Engineering and Manufacturing Network in Wide Bay and chairman of the Wide Bay Institute of TAFE, told The Gympie Times in an exclusive interview this week that everyone needs to be a part of this new era.

“We need a plan for the next 20 years that caters for the economy, the environment and all of us – something so solid and inevitable governments cannot ignore it.”

Mr Smith says Wide Bay as a region is bound to experience growth pressures from South East Queensland.

And Gympie, he says, is strategically located to be the centre of growth.

PLANNING, economic and environmental imperatives mean Gympie must prepare to take a leading role in Queensland’s industrial future,” Mr Smith said.

“We need to attract innovative and smart industries to employ people in good jobs and professions.

“The strategic advantage for Gympie is its geography. There is no doubt that Wide Bay is the most capable area to absorb regional development flowing from Brisbane.

“We are the closest outside the Sunshine Coast, which really doesn’t seem to have an interest in industry development.”

Mr Smith sees business as the leading source of the necessary initiative to achieve this new era.

“One of the best things governments can do is speed up their processes so things can get done.

“We’re 200km from one of Australia’s fastest growing ports. We’re two hours to the fastest growing international airport, with capacity to expand further than will ever be possible in Sydney or Melbourne.

“This is a major strategic advantage over Bundaberg or Maryborough. And we are the closest area that’s got the services and community. The infrastructure is already in place to service people. We have the critical mass to grow from.

“These are critical factors, but without a conscious effort we will not get there.

“As we’re going now, Gympie will not reach its potential and major economic activity will pass us by.

“Basically, to ensure we take value out of the expansion and growth to our south, we need leaders in the community and in government to develop a strategy and work from it, so we get Gympie to go forward.”

That, he says, requires a long term vision – a master plan for the next 25 or even 50 years. And that means now.

“The time to get this plan in place is getting shorter and shorter. Look at the changes of the last 20 years. We’ve had no fixed plan to guide any of this,” he said.

We need leaders to develop a strategy and work from it

Gympie Times

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