Mayor hopes to implement several projects this year

A $100 MILLION PROJECT: The St Stephen’s Hospital construction site.
A $100 MILLION PROJECT: The St Stephen’s Hospital construction site. File

HERVEY Bay Chamber of Commerce president Tim Powers said overall the Fraser Coast economy was improving, but at a slow and patchy rate.

But Mayor Gerard O' Connell said the confidence level of the region's economy was the best it has been in 10 years with the economy improving by 3% since 2013 and he was confident it would continue to grow. Cr O'Connell said during the past four to five months, the region had attracted big developments.

"The new 100-bed St Stephen's Hospital and the opening of the Stockland Shopping Centre were last year's biggest developments which created hundreds of jobs," Cr O Connell said.

"The hospital invested nearly a $100 million while Stockland invested $116 million and a further $40 million was investment into the economy by major retailers."

Mr Powers agreed with the confidence level and said it would be another steady year in 2015.

"The change in Federal Government late last year gave cause for optimism," he said.

"This year, the economy will improve slightly but there is nothing 'on the horizon' that gives significant cause for optimism."

Cr O'Connell said he hoped to implement several projects this year that would give the region a huge boost.

"The Station Square development program will start in a couple of months with 50% more floor space," he said.

"The Mary Harbour development program with 1300 new dwelling residential development on the banks of the Mary River will be lodged in a couple of months and the council is spending approximately $10 million in Maryborough to enhance the CBD and to bring in the flood mitigation measures."

Cr O'Connell said the council was also working closely with East Coast TAFE to build on the region's Education City concept so students could stay and get quality education and training locally.

"I'm also looking to get new aviation businesses to create new jobs in logistics, flight training, storage and freight," he said.

For Mr Powers, health and education industries would continue to be stronger growth industries.

"Professional services should have a good year too while the property industry should continue to show signs of improvement as developers continue to look to avail themselves of various local incentive schemes."

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