Scott Rowe, Mayor Glen Hartwig and CEO Shane Gray at the Chamber of Commerce meeting State of the Region presentation.
Scott Rowe, Mayor Glen Hartwig and CEO Shane Gray at the Chamber of Commerce meeting State of the Region presentation.

Business leaders welcome good news about Gympie’s future

SPECIALISING in aged care, and building on the already dominant industries of agriculture, forestry and fishing were just two ideas touted to have big potential for a rapidly growing Gympie region economy at the 2021 State of the Region presentation by the Gympie Chamber of Commerce yesterday.

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A full house at the newly renovated RSL in Mary Street heard from Mayor Glen Hartwig, council CEO Shane Gray and Wide Bay Burnett director of regional development Scott Rowe on the region's strengths, weaknesses, economic development opportunities and plans for the future.

Despite having an older, poorer, less educated and less employed population, the region had recently made the top 5% of Queensland centres for new ABNs, the meeting heard.

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Scott Rowe addresses a Gympie Chamber of Commerce meeting at the RSL on February 10.
Scott Rowe addresses a Gympie Chamber of Commerce meeting at the RSL on February 10.

Agriculture, forestry and fishing businesses comprise more than 26% of all the region's registered businesses, compared to 9% for Queensland - something to think about.

Among the businesses attending the Chamber breakfast was Right at Home, an in-home aged care service that has doubled its staff in the past 12 months and whose representative pointed out to the crowd that many of the new arrivals choosing to relocate to the Gympie region were older in age and would be needing those services.

Owner of the Gympie Golf Course Phil Goodman said the reason he had chosen to invest here was because Gympie was not part of South East Queensland, where he said businesses had to deal with the State Government more than the local council.

Owner of the Gympie Golf Course, Phil Goodman addresses a meeting of the Gympie Chamber of Commerce, February 10, 2021
Owner of the Gympie Golf Course, Phil Goodman addresses a meeting of the Gympie Chamber of Commerce, February 10, 2021

Another man in the crowd who said he was new to the region and "worried" about the Bypass (the 26km final section of the Cooroy to Curra upgrade of the Bruce Highway currently under construction) told Mr Hartwig he as Mayor was the region's "salesman in chief", and implied he should be more like former Ipswich mayor Paul Pisasale, despite the fact Mr Pisasale is now in jail for corruption and other offences.

"I don't see any leadership promoting the area," the man said. "Is there an opportunity for you to be out in front of this? Offer some inspiration?"

An unimpressed Mr Hartwig quickly shut down any suggestion he behave more like the disgraced former Ipswich mayor, and said he himself had a good head for radio, but agreed the council needed to work on its marketing strategy.

More to come tomorrow.