10 things Mackay needs to deliver sound future
DEVELOPMENT of Mackay's waterfront, cruise ships and regional financial stability are three of the region's top priorities from today onwards.
For the first time in the city's 150-year history, Mackay Regional Council has released a collaborative 'top 10 wish list' with major industry players in a bid to present a unified front for growth.
Mayor Greg Williamson said the wish list - which has been signed off by industry groups including Mackay Tourism and GW3 - comes in preparation of the arrival of State Government ministers on Monday, including the Premier.
Six of the 10 priorities will be council-led, including the promotion of the Mackay Region via a "shared regional brand", supporting tertiary education by pushing CQU and James Cook University to increase the percentage of people completing tertiary and vocational educational training, and securing funding for the Mackay Ring Rd.
The council is also hopeful Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk will sign off on its Waterfront Priority Development Area (PDA), a co-ordinated long-term plan to develop Mackay's waterfront, when she is here on Monday.
It is only after getting State Government sign-off on the PDA that the city and the council will be able to move into the next phase of the plan.
Cr Williamson said a strategic committee would steer that, a move already informally endorsed by councillors.
"Council will very shortly formulate a strategic committee to draw economic investment on the PDA, made up of council and external influences," he said.
The Resource Centre of Excellence, a project borne out of the state election in November, will also continue to be driven as a priority by the council.
Although a location is still to be secured for the "one-of-a-kind" facility, Cr Williamson said Mackay was a "long way ahead" of any other major regional centre in setting it up.
"By July we will be ready to put a shovel in the ground," he said.
The council will also champion bio-futures and clean energy as key investment opportunities.
Four of the 10 priorities will be championed by major industry stakeholders, with two led by Mackay Tourism.
General manager Tas Webber said establishing Mackay as a destination cruise port was still at least three years away, but explained it was important to push this now so that when it came to fruition the region would be ready.
Urban Development Institute of Australia branch president for Mackay and Whitsunday Mark McGrath said the priorities were the key to the future for the Mackay region.
"One of the things I've seen over the years in advocating for regional development is that (discord) is death," he said.
"[We are] trying to have one hymn sheet, if one person is out of key it sounds terrible and when you're trying to advocate to state and federal bureaucrats as to why they need to focus on, give money to and make policies for Mackay."
The final priority, regional financial stability, will be led by economic development group GW3, headed by Garry Scanlan. "We will be pushing the cabinet for infrastructure, we are pushing for support for the pilot training academy to be here," he said.
Cr Williamson said improving financial stability in the Mackay region was integral to ensure sustainable growth.
"Regional financial stability means we have to get the banks to say, this is an area worth investing in," he said.