COUNCIL: Mayor Chris Loft's message for the new year
FRASER Coast Mayor Christ Loft shares his New Year message with the region.
There have been many milestones in 2016 which will make the Fraser Coast the place to invest, work and live.
Council delivered a Budget with a general rate rise of 1% - the lowest since amalgamation yet with the biggest capital expenditure budget of $74 million. I'm sure you've seen the roadworks as you've driven around the region.
The task for any local government when setting a budget is finding the fine line between maintaining services, providing the needed infrastructure for the future, providing employment directly and indirectly, and recognising the need to have rates that are affordable.
Council has worked hard to find this balance, recognising we are the financial engine driver of this region.
The budget also included $600,000 towards the establishment of the Innovation Hub which will provide a platform to explore new business ideas and take this region forward.
I was pleased to see developers coming forward with applications and plans to invest in the region.
Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics suggested a credible economic recovery was underway, with a 10.3% increase in total jobs in the region for the 18 months to June 2016, more than twice the national average of 4.5%.
Aged Care will be a growth industry on the Fraser Coast. It will help boost our health and medical sectors creating jobs and attracting more professionals and peopled into the region to use those services.
Building of the $240 million PresCare health hub will start in Maryborough this year. The project is expected to create the equivalent of 300 jobs during construction and more than 150 full time jobs across a diverse range of services, medical, retail, food, cleaning, administrative and community based roles when operating.
The $ 140 million Ozcare Aged Care Facility in Hervey Bay is on track to be finished in mid-2017. The three storey facility in Kawungan will offer 154 beds including dementia care, residential respite care and permanent care.
The marina precinct in Urangan will change. Developers have lodged an application to build two 20-storey buildings on vacant land on the corner of Charlton Esplanade and Boat Harbour Drive.
Across the road is The Anchorage Lifestyle Living Resort - a gated community worth $45 million.
Meanwhile the solar industry is stepping up its investment in the region with plans to build three plants worth almost $600 million: one at Aramara, west of Maryborough, one at Susan River and one at Teebar .
The projects could create the equivalent of 400 jobs during construction and up to 10 full-time jobs and 20-part time jobs when operating.
The region is innovative and tapping into new technologies and industries.
The Maryborough Sugar Factory is developing multi-million-dollar plans for biofuels and expanding cane production at Granville and Churchill Mines.
The extra cane could allow the Maryborough Mill to process one million tonnes of cane per year and enable the company to produce bio-chemicals and cogenerate clean green energy.
While ethanol for fuel replacement is one products that can be developed from biofuels, MSF is looking at a range of much more sophisticated, higher value-added products to produce in the region.
Council has also brought in a range of incentives, such as rebates on infrastructure charges, to attract rural industries to the region.
Rural industries which will create jobs are eligible for a 90% reduction in infrastructure charges.
We are doing everything we can to attract new industries, especially innovative industries, and encourage entrepreneurs to bring their ideas to the region.
I think we are on track to reach our target to boost tourism numbers across the region next year.
The latest tourism snapshot has painted a positive picture for the Fraser Coast, with the destination more than doubling Queensland's overall growth in domestic visitors.
Our aim is to grow Maryborough from the 25,000 visitors a year we have now to 200,000 visitors a year with projects such as Mary Poppins Interpretive Centre and the Fraser Coast Military Trail including the Duncan Chapman statue and story.
I believe that 200,000 visitors a year would sustain 200 Ma and Pa businesses.
Hervey Bay has the capacity to grow to one million visitors a year. This is attainable as historically visitor numbers were at that level.
Passenger numbers through the Fraser Coast Airport have been on the rise since September last year (2015).
At the end of June there were 189,000 passenger movements through the airport which is almost 8,000 more than last year and almost 25,000 more than the 2013/14 year.
The state government predicts that the Fraser Coast will be one of the fastest growing regions in Queensland; growing from 104,000 people now to 145,000 by 2036 - an average of 2.3% annually.
The population growth will be spread across all age groups not just retirees heading to the coast.
What does that mean for the Fraser Coast?
It means we will need more houses, more infrastructure such as roads, water and recreation facilities. It will mean more professional services, especially in the health and allied health sectors.
There will be more jobs.
The future is looking good .