At the Economic development strategy launch yesterday are (from left) council CEO Andrew Brien, director of community services Peter Smith, councillor Anna Nioa and Mayor Mick Kruger.
At the Economic development strategy launch yesterday are (from left) council CEO Andrew Brien, director of community services Peter Smith, councillor Anna Nioa and Mayor Mick Kruger. Alistair Brightman

Fraser region plans to move ahead

AN international freight airport could be the first twist to the ambitious economic development strategy, launched yesterday at Susan River.

Chair of the advisory group established by the strategy, Gerard O’Connell, last night shifted the regional airport focus from passengers to freight.

Mr O’Connell believes a nationwide and international need for specialised transport could be served efficiently from the Fraser Coast.

He said the region’s airports at Hervey Bay and Maryborough could be grown incrementally as the population reached toward 100,000 and beyond.

“We should do the best we can with the airports while also pushing the marine precinct in Maryborough and the harbour project in Hervey Bay.”

Mr O’Connell described the strategy, prepared by Leigh Bennett of Enterprise Innovations, as “the dawning of a region”.

The 26-page document is a wish list of action plans that have the potential to advance the region strategically.

Along with the well publicised ambitions for a major sports complex and regional airport were some familiar projects.

The Bridge to Brolga Maryborough plan, which has moved slowly since its inception, was immediately targeted, as was the Pialba civic precinct.

Diversifying the region’s manufacturing base while working with TAFE and Education Queensland to meet future manufacturing industry needs will be stepped up.

Education is a key component in the strategy with plans to turn Hervey Bay into an education city. Moves by USQ to be a centre for economic development and enterprise will be supported.

Possible sites for an international standard health and wellbeing complex will be investigated, as will the potential for a high quality integrated transport network.

“The timing is impeccable, coming out of a difficult economic environment which had clearly slowed,” Mr Bennett said.

“There is a chance to run very hard at the plans, to tick off some early wins. Most of the plan is built around the fact that there won’t be a lot of spare money for some time. It’s more about partnering up people, businesses and industries.”

Mr O’Connell was “overwhelmed” by the attitude of members of the advisory group.

“They’re busy people and they’re not coming for a talkfest. They’ll provide high level strategic advice to the council.

“More importantly it’s the networks and the support the networks bring.”



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