‘Anchor tenant’ for Mary Street key to rejuvenation, jobs
THE Pavilion was to (COVID-19) capacity this morning as 120 business men and women from throught the region attended the first full Gympie Chamber of Commerce meeting since the lockdown and heard why Gympie is Qld's next growth region.
Guest speakers and Sunshine Coast business heavy hitters Aaron Flanagan and Peppe Bueti revealed some of the projects and strategies that had been game changers on the coast, which has a population of about 340,000 but markets itself based on the population within an hour's drive, which is about 1.1 million.
Mr Flanagan said the Gympie region brand centred on being welcoming, resourceful and real. It was the gateway to the north and south of the state, was less than two hours to Bribane, had its own university campus, a low cost of living, a quality lifestyle, reasonably sized economy and plenty of natural assets, he said.
There are about 400,000 people living within an hour of Gympie, and to fully leverage off the massive growth in the southeast and the natural spillover from the Sunshine Coast, which was fast running out of residential land, he said the region needed to ensure a few things, including:
- dynamic, stable leadership;
- a clear vision;
- proactive engagement with industry;
- enlist strong regional ambassadors (for example, Australia Zoo is a strong regional ambassador for the Sunshine Coast);
maintain a respectful working relationship with other levels of governments.
With the money being made available to help local economies and businesses recover from coronavirus, a state election looming, recent election of a new council and appointment of a new CEO, the timing for growth was perfect for the Gympie region, Mr Flanagan said.
Building a close relationship with the University of the Sunshine Coast was also going to be important as was attracting the perfect "anchor tenant" for the commercial heart of the city, Mary Street and the CBD.
On the somewhat fragmented Sunshine Coast, the 53ha greenfield site transformed intothe Maroochydore CBD had secured customer service centres as anchor tenants, creating salaried jobs, part time jobs, and opportunities to help retain young peope.
One of the big issues that could hold the region's growth back was inconsistent internet connectivity, and the audience heard the Gympie Regional Council was exploring ways to access $53 million in government funding to improve connectivity.
A third guest speaker, Caloundra Chamber of Commerce Olivia Sainsbury, had to cancel at the last minute due to feeling unwell and in keeping with COVID-19 advice.
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