Lo­cal ef­fort in cam­paign to fight back as econ­omy lags be­hind

Augusta Margaret River Times - - News -

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.

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