Industry heavyweights reveal hurdles still facing region
WHERE is Gympie’s industrial land and how do we put businesses on it?
This was the question to start the week at the Chamber of Commerce’s official launch of property guru and Hotspotting.com founder Terry Ryder’s report on the region as Queensland’s New Growth Story; it doubled as a bull session for business and political leaders, developers, and council staff to air their thoughts on the obstacles still blocking the region’s success, and how to fix them.
It was not long before common themes occurred: a lack of government collaboration; no clearly defined point of difference for Gympie to hang its hat on; and no clear messaging.
The good news?
Things were already headed in the right direction.
“Within the past two months we have been experiencing an entirely different culture in terms of (the council) getting back to us,” Plansmart Development’s Kimberley Toomey said.
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Ms Toomey, whose business is working on a 200-lot subdivision in the region, was not the only Chamber member to point to improved processes between the council and private enterprises.
Some headway still remained to be made, though.
“Most of the sites left for development need too much spent to put in infrastructure (like roads and sewerage),” Ms Toomey said.
“The council needs to show leadership to get those external works in place,” she said.
The council was not the only public body to draw ire at the breakfast; several members said communication at the state and federal levels was lacking, too.
Nolan Meats’ Michael Nolan said hold-ups in getting final sign-offs on a project in a timely manner created problems like cash flow disruptions.
“That’s what kills people,” Mr Nolan said.
Mayor Glen Hartwig said the council was aware of the concerns raised and urged patience.
“Two years ago the Chamber of Commerce got frustrated because the council wasn’t listening, and they didn’t listen for two years after that” Mr Hartwig said.
“We’re now four years behind the eightball.”
However he cautioned against believing the council could solve these problems financially.
“We can’t operate as a bank for anyone,” he said, pointing out it was “Ipswich waiting to happen”.
“We know where we want to go; we’re just a hell of a long way behind.”