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Whitsunday Regional Council will take ownership of future Economic Development for the region after the demise of Whitsunday Marketing and Development Limited (WMDL) due to a lack of funding.
While council has withdrawn funding from WMDL and taken Economic Development in-house, the 2016/17 budget has increased support for Tourism Whitsundays to $450,000, a significant increase from the previous year.
WMDL earlier this year split from Tourism Whitsunday after a partnership experiment plagued by setbacks failed. As a result, council has decided to take a new direction by engaging a specialist consultant to work with the Mayor and Councillors to develop a region-wide Economic Development Strategy.
Mayor Andrew Willcox said council would continue to be the major funder of Tourism Whitsundays and had also budgeted for the appointment of its first ever Economic Development Executive Officer signalling a proactive approach to continue economic growth and ensure the Whitsunday Region is ideally placed for a sustainable future.
“More than 85 per cent of larger councils consider economic development to be a core function of council and two-thirds of those councils have dedicated staff resources to economic functions.
“Our economy and lifestyle is the backbone of our wonderful region. This new Economic Development Strategy will underpin everything we do to ensure our region has a prosperous growth period going forward.”
Our community should be aware that economic growth is a short term process which takes into account yearly growth of the economy while economic development focusses on the long term.”
Mayor Willcox was confident the proposed Economic Development Strategy would provide a clear framework for the Whitsundays future growth and identify the region’s strengths as well as challenges, and give a clear pathway to achieve council’s goals.
“This Council is committed to making the hard and smart decisions that will drive the Whitsunday Region to continued economic growth.
“To do the same but expect different results is a mistake this council will not make. We must strive to encourage and nurture innovation and creative thinking and be strategic about which investment we need to attract.
“It will identify how we can create a more diverse economy that is resilient to boom and bust cycles and how we can drive productivity by working smarter.
Mayor Willcox said strategic land use planning can have a substantial impact on business investment appeal of a local area and local government are, in effect, partners in the early stages of business development projects through their role in development approvals. “At the heart of the new Economic Development Strategy is a Mayor, Councillors and Council that will work together efficiently as a united organisation to deliver positive outcomes for our community.
“As Mayor I know the Whitsundays have strength and resilience and there is a good level of optimism in our business community that this Economic Development Strategy will help showcase our amazing region.”