IT’S easy enough to say you’ve got a new Economic Development Strategy that’s going to create “a thriving, diverse and sustainable local economy built on our region’s natural advantages”.
And it’s crucial too, if you want to grow the shire’s 11,000 jobs, 3700 businesses and output of $3.8 billion that you’ve got to be proactive in attracting new business and enabling existing businesses to grow.
But how are you going to do it?
Fortunately, the South Gippsland Shire Council’s new Economic Development Strategy 2021-31 “is action-based and focused on priorities”, according to shire CEO Kerryn Ellis and there’ll be a critical report on progress to be presented within a year, by June 30 next year.
And putting the acid on the shire’s administration and the new council to get results will be the Economic Development Strategy Advisory Group (EDSAG) which is continuing on to oversee the implementation of both the Economic Strategy and Visitor Economy Strategy.
They intend to do it by implementing a six-point action plan to develop the economy and a six-point plan to develop the visitor economy as well.
Economic Development Strategy:
1. Attracting and retaining investment – Among the ways the shire will do this is by developing an innovative and accessible Investment Prospectus for potential investors and attending and conducting trade missions annually to encourage future investment in the shire.
2. Supporting enabling infrastructure – Digital connectivity will be a focus as will improved public transport.
3. Developing key industry sectors – Do this by supporting trade events like the SG Dairy Expo, conducting an industry development program and leveraging off research institutes.
4. Building partnerships – Building partnerships is a big one involving more visits to local business sites, expanding the shire’s customer database and participation in business awards.
5. Increasing capability – Work with training organisations, buy local where possible, and help business to get government grants.
6. Enhancing towns and main streets – Go after more grants for trader and main street improvement, also work at attracting new residents and supporting the arts.
For the Visitor Economy Strategy, the target areas are:
1. Increasing marketing and promotion.
2. Supporting visitor economy infrastructure.
3. Diversifying and expanding products and experiences.
4. Enhancing visitor servicing.
5. Building partnerships.
6. Providing business development and support.
The strategies take a people-centric approach that include council’s interaction with investors, businesses, and the community. In doing so, council is also addressing its intention to improve customer service, liveability and sustainability within the shire. This approach seeks to also improve the visitor experience, and the capability of local businesses and workers to grow the economy together.
In praising the work that went into developing the strategies, including nearly 400 pieces of feedback, and adopting the plans, the two shire administrators Christian Zahra and Rick Brown pretty much phoned it in, quoting from the council reports but without demonstrating much understanding of how the strategies are going to be delivered.
But at least the council chair, Julie Eisenbise added something.
“This is one of the reasons we were in the shire, to get the strategies right, and there will be a lot of actions that come out of these strategies,” she said.