Gympie Mayor Mick Curran.
Gympie Mayor Mick Curran. Renee Albrecht

WBBROC hits back at CCIQ after giving wrong idea

GYMPIE Mayor Mick Curran has called on a Bundy business leader to talk to councils in the Wide Bay and Burnett.

Cr Curran is the chair of the Wide Bay Regional Organisations of Councils and Yale Morgan is the co-chair of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland's Wide Bay Regional Policy Council.

The CCIQ, in a statement this week, said councils needed to support local businesses.

But Cr Curran yesterday said WBBROC and member councils were already doing a great deal.

"Maybe the CCIQ needs to work with us so that they understand this, before giving the community the wrong impression,” he said.

WBBROC, with Regional Development Australia and the Department of State Development, recently held its annual Economic Growth Forum in Maryborough with 190 people registered.

Five local businesses gave an overview of their organisations and mentioned how councils were helping in their development and growth.

The forum also had a panel discussion with the mayors outlining their united position on regional priorities are aimed at developing the regional economy.

Local business attendees were also given the opportunity to ask questions of the mayors.

"The CCIQ missed a valuable opportunity in not having more of its members attending this forum,” Cr Curran said.

"And they would have experienced a small taste of the way local government is working together in the region in supporting local business.”

Cr Curran said WBBROC has also been instrumental in securing a second trade and investment officer for the region, after representations to the State Government.

"All of this was done to provide more support to local businesses to expand their markets.

"Regional Forums such as that held in Maryborough in early October highlights that the Wide Bay Burnett is truly a united region,” he said.

If local businesses are not ready for export, the individual Councils in the region have been providing support for quite some time now, Cr Curran added. WBBROC is also working with the Export Council of Australia to conduct an audit of local/regional businesses to identify the service delivery gaps provided for businesses seeking to achieve success in international/export markets.

WBBROC's regional priorities include:

. Water for Economic Development

. First and Last Mile Project - to help farmers and business get their products to market

. Regional Export Extension Service

. Freight and Logistics opportunities

Cr Curran said that WBBROC's regional priority on telecommunications and the independent report it commissioned, helped the region to gain more than 12% of telecommunications blackspot funding from the Federal Government, better than any other region in Queensland. This was very much focused on assisting local business.

Another WBBROC priority, the Port of Bundaberg, has also proved very successful. After lobbying of the State Government, we now have a gas pipeline being constructed, opening up the Port to many new opportunities. A Transport Study has also been conducted with a view to getting product to the Port, and the Port area is currently being considered as a Special Development Area by the Coordinator General.

Much of this work was made possible by strong collaboration and cooperation between organisations like Regional Development Australia, the Port Authority, the Department of State Development and others, Cr Curran said.

It is interesting to note, Cr Curran said, that WBBROC tried to work with key regional organisations to develop a Regional Economic Development Strategy just 2 years ago. This is strategy is currently being implemented with support from many organisations. Cr Curran said that unfortunately, although WBBROC wrote to the CCIQ at the time to seek their input, we didn't even receive a response.

He added that maybe it is time that the CCIQ stopped heckling from the side-lines and started workto participate and with other organisations in the region to achieve more for local business.

"My door is always open to organisations wishing to talk to WBBROC about helping it achieve a range of regional priorities, and to help local businesses,” Cr Curran added. "Regional Forums such as that held in Maryborough in early October highlights that the Wide Bay Burnett is truly a united region,” he said.

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