Deputy mayor Darren Everard, pictured at the Torquay Caravan Park, says the council is negotiating with employers to come to the Fraser Coast.
Deputy mayor Darren Everard, pictured at the Torquay Caravan Park, says the council is negotiating with employers to come to the Fraser Coast.

‘Big business coming’: Hope on horizon for Coast jobseekers

AS DIRE business predictions circulate, Fraser Coast deputy mayor Darren Everard says there is hope on the horizon.

Speaking to the Chronicle after last week's budget meeting, Cr Everard said the council was proactively working to attract new businesses to the region.

While he could not give specifics of the discussions going on, he said negotiations were taking place with various employers.

"We're in negotiations now with other businesses to relocate to the Fraser Coast," Cr Everard said.

"We need to bring more businesses here to create employment and we're going to see some benefits, hopefully very soon."

Cr Everard said some of the $1 million, earmarked in the 2020/21 council budget for future coronavirus relief, could be used to market the Fraser Coast and "attract big businesses to the region".

"Our economic development team has been out there knocking on doors, engaging with the business community to try and work a pathway forward through this," Cr Everard said.

"I'm fairly confident we're going to have some businesses set up fairly soon."

He said the economic downturn in the region, including the council's forecast $7 million deficit, could not have been avoided, given the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

"As our business community understands, you have your good years and your bad years," he said.

"This year has been something nobody has been able to control."

He said the council had been measured in its approach to supporting businesses, including by suspending license fee payment for about 635 businesses.

"We're not sure what the new world is going to be but this council will give it our best shot to take our community forward," Cr Everard said.

His assurances come as retail experts say regional CBDs are "caught in the vortex" of COVID-19 shutdowns, despite recording relatively low virus case numbers.

"Regional CBDs are being hit harder than capital cities," National Retail Association CEO Dominique Lamb said.

"If you don't have an active landlord or an active council, it can become difficult, because you could have a myriad of closed stores around one open store."

Maryborough was singled out in a recent report as one of the regional centres bucking the trend.

This was attributed to the ongoing CBD revitalisation project, which had benefited businesses.