Maryborough CBD Renewal Group chair Daniel Sanderson in Kent Street.
Maryborough CBD Renewal Group chair Daniel Sanderson in Kent Street. Jocelyn Watts

Dan's a man with a plan

HE'S young, softly spoken and perhaps a little reticent but Daniel Sanderson has a heart as big as Phar Lap's when it comes to his hometown of Maryborough.

At 25 years of age, he's a rarity among his peers. He doesn't have a university degree, just a strong head for business and politics with the drive and motivation to take on leadership roles at which others twice his age and with more experience have baulked.

The son of a Granville schoolteacher and stay-at-home mum, Mr Sanderson is leading two influential groups – the Maryborough branch of the Fraser Coast Young Professionals and the Maryborough CBD Renewal Group, a sub-group formed under the city's chamber of commerce umbrella to revitalise the business centre.

“I didn't go to university but loved education and thought I'd stay here and not follow everyone else,” Mr Sanderson said.

After graduating from Aldridge State High School, he worked with two local businesses before joining Wide Bay TAFE where he now puts together and promotes training programs for organisations, companies and employers.

Mr Sanderson's first community leadership role came about 18 months ago, soon after the Hervey Bay branch of the Young Professionals formed.

“Hervey Bay was first established and I knew the man behind it,” he said.

“We were looking at something similar for Maryborough and organised a meeting. About 70 people turned up so we said ‘Ok, there's a need for it here' and it went from there.”

He accepted the role of president of the group dedicated to creating business, professional and social opportunities for its members.

His next big step was to walk down the aisle with his bride, Sotik.

“We married just on a year ago and our little girl – Abella Grace – is now 15 weeks old.”

So why would a sleep-deprived new dad, at just 25, put his hand up to chair a group of experienced business people in revitalising the city centre?

“I know it's a David and Goliath task but I'm passionate about Maryborough and I don't want to be someone who complains and does nothing. I want to be someone who actually does something.

“But it's not me who is going to make the difference. It's about having a great team around me. ‘Teamwork makes dreams work' – I love that quote.”

Mr Sanderson said the Maryborough CBD Renewal Group, with help from the Maryborough Chamber of Commerce and Fraser Coast Regional Council, had put together a plan with defined strategies that would be actioned over time.

One of their first projects is to spring clean the CBD on Sunday, November 14, with everyone invited to help.

Mr Sanderson said the Heritage City was ideally placed to benefit from Australia's new City Change trend in which, instead of sea or tree changes, capital city residents were increasingly moving to and investing in regional cities where they could enjoy lower home and land prices, less commuting and less stress.

“Maryborough will be a hotspot in years to come.

“We'll see more of the shift towards inland cities such as Maryborough, we'll regionalise more and government corporations will move here.

“Maryborough has everything and the CBD shops are close to parks, art galleries and museums but it needs to modernise.

“I see Maryborough in 10 years as prosperous, vibrant and sophisticated – a mix of modern and heritage.”

Mr Sanderson said a generational and cultural change had already begun, however the experience of veteran business people and civic leaders needed to be captured before they all retired.

“We need the older generation's experience to learn from. That's why at the Young Professionals breakfasts, we invite them to speak.”

Above all, he wants to see all Maryborough residents, from children to pensioners, take pride in their city.

“We're trying to foster pride with what we're doing so everyone benefits; it's everyone's city.”

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