Valley-based strategy to drive economic growth

WITH heavy job losses in the Clarence Valley from the Grafton Gaol, South Grafton Abattoir and the Telstra Call Centre, it's been a rough few years for the area.

However Page MP Janelle Saffin has announced she is determined to help turn the tide by lobbying for a Clarence Valley-based strategy to drive job growth and economic prosperity in the area.

Ms Saffin said her strategy would involve all levels of government to help support the key local industries of seafood (fishing and aquaculture), forestry, marine and transport.

"Since the slashing of more than 90 state public servant jobs at Grafton Gaol, I have been lobbying Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Cabinet ministers to get a place-based economic development strategy for the Valley," Ms Saffin said.

"I have put a strong case to Canberra that we need to provide proper structural support for fishing and forestry, two traditional industries which employ 26.3 per cent of the local workforce, and the related construction sector, which employs a further 16.6 per cent of workers.

"Council's marine industry strategy also needs to be further implemented to fully realise the export potential of the Port of Yamba and recreational tourism potential of the Clarence River.

"Clarence Valley Mayor Cr Richie Williamson agrees with me that a place-based strategy could leverage the innovative work council has been doing as well to improve secondary schooling outcomes.

Ms Saffin said as a member of the Southern Cross University Council, she was aware the university was also keen to increase its presence in the area and contribute to its economic growth.

She said while fine-tuning needed to be done on her plan, she envisaged Clarence Valley Council would become the lead agency while working closely with State and Federal government departments.

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