Local effort in campaign to fight back as economy lags behind
Groups to be led by the Margaret River Chamber of Commerce are eyeing a fightback campaign to combat a widening slump in the region’s economy, but they look to be going it alone.
Despite highly touted plans for a new economic development officer — rebadged as a “sustainable economy officer” following direction from the Shire council — the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River is unable to say when the role will be filled.
Shire chief executive Gary Evershed told the Times recruitment was “likely to be deferred until the new CEO is in place”.
“The position has been changed from the original request by the CEO for an economic development officer,” he said.
“Council has determined that the focus of the position should be on sustainability and the regenerative and circular economy rather than traditional economic development, hence the change of name.
“The Shire president believes the new position will have a strong focus on place-making and the revitalisation of the main street.”
The Times understands the officer’s role remained undefined, despite several councillors fighting hard for the recruitment, first earmarked in the economic development strategy written by Mr Evershed.
Shire president Pam Townshend said recruitment would “most likely” be finalised in early 2019.
“The intention is for the officer to work closely with the Shire’s business community to achieve a diversified local economy that offers residents accessible and stable employment opportunities,” she said.
The impasse means no direct officer involvement in the looming fightback campaign, though councillors, the chamber, and an assortment of traders will come together.
The Margaret River Wine Association and the Margaret RiverBusselton Tourism Association were also part of the industry leaders’ forum.