New strategy to chart the way

Published on 17 March 2014

Loddon Shire Council will commission an economic development strategy to guide the Shire’s economy and stimulate employment opportunities up to 2018 with the help of $45,000 from the Victorian Government’s $1 billion Regional Growth Fund.

Council will contribute $15,000 towards the project, which will identify opportunities to enhance local business environments, attract industry investment and create local jobs. 

Announcing the grant, Member for Swan Hill Peter Walsh said new infrastructure, telecommunications and improved transport links was making Loddon Shire more accessible and affordable for business.

“While the Shire’s communities have recovered from prolonged drought and the 2010-11 floods, there is a need to develop economic resilience in the face of future adverse climatic conditions,” Mr Walsh said.

“An implementation plan will be produced with clear recommendations for Council on creating new partnership opportunities with business and industry groups.” 

Director Economy and Community Bryan McEwan said it was timely for Council to review its economic strategy in light of its new Council Plan, which was adopted last year.

“We want to take a wholistic view – not only focusing on economic development, but on wider community needs as well,” Mr McEwan said.

“We’ve been allocated funds for the next three years to employ an agribusiness officer, so that will also fit in nicely.

“Our strategic priorities are primarily in agriculture and agribusiness and the kinds of industries that can feed into agriculture, such as stock feed suppliers.

“We’re not going to tell farmers how to farm – rather, we want to point the way to alternatives, focus on value-adding, promote the Shire to potential investors and examine export opportunities.

“Looking beyond agribusiness, we want to explore our role in helping communities to build their own local economies.

“What can we be doing for small business?  The Streetlife program we ran in Boort was encouraging local operators to work together and improve their own shop fronts, but what are other kinds of things we could be involved in?

“What’s going to encourage people to interact with a main street and enjoy being there?

“With the news of this government grant, we can now look at engaging a consultant to undertake the work.”

In the Loddon Shire alone, Regional Growth Fund has provided $3.36 million to support 15 projects, prompting a total of $11.75 million in total investment.

Loddon Shire’s economic development strategy is expected to be completed in September.