Strategy to focus on tourism towns
An economic development strategy that identifies Noojee, Walhalla and Yarragon as three priority destination areas has been adopted by Baw Baw Shire.
Following consultation with industry, government, community and tourism groups, the strategy identified a range of key projects across the shire’s leading and developing business sectors that will focus on increasing employment and economic productivity.
Four pillars identified in the strategy include business engagement, business attraction, business advocacy and tourism.
Officers said these categories were the “stepping stones” that would set up Baw Baw’s economic development success.
The strategy outlines a tourism marketing plan to generate momentum for tourism success while identifying Walhalla and Mountain Rivers, Noojee and Yarragon as key destinations.
Destination action plans for the three priority tourism areas also are included in the strategy.
A report to council said business attraction to the shire was very important to gain attention from individuals outside the shire to visit and also attract new employees to the area who are currently working outside the shire.
Th strategy aims to create alliances with local businesses and non-for-profit organisations to provide the best outcome for their business.
Officers said the strategy also acknowledged tourism was a major player in the shire’s economy, yet most of the visitors only came for the day and majority were from Victoria.
Cr Danny Goss said economic development was an area that had been well and truly under resources for some time.
He said the strategy focused on four key areas including business engagement, business attraction, business advocacy and tourism.
“We are working hard to attract new business to the shire,” he said.
Cr Goss said Walhalla, Noojee and Yarragon were the shire’s three “hero destinations.”
“Economic development is critical. It provides jobs and tourism to our area,” he said.
Cr Goss said the strategy would help to stimulate economic development and in turn more jobs,” he said.
Cr Peter Kostos said the population explosion being experienced in Baw Baw would dictate where economic development would occur.
He said keeping younger people in the shire with employment opportunities was a priority.
Cr Mikaela Power said without an action plan, council did not have a direction to get things done.
She said in the past economic development had been a tricky thing to get done.
“People have been looking for it and we need to be on the front foot and controlling the development we want to happen,” she aid.
Cr Tricia Jones said the strategy provided a strategic framework of how to achieve success.
“A healthy small business sector is the base for a healthy economy.
Cr Jones said council’s new priority planning team would give a clear message that “Baw Baw is open for business.”
Cr Jones said tourism provided direct benefits to the community that could be measured. But, she said the marketing plan within the strategy was most exciting.
One of the initiatives introduced by council’s economic development unit is a “think tank” get together on a quarterly basis that aims to being together a small group if leaders from different business and community backgrounds.
The strategy also outlines assistance the economic development unit can provide new businesses, including a priority planning team.
“The ongoing retail employment opportunities would be particularly important for young people, who often must travel outside Warragul to get jobs.
“Council has also identified further potential development sites in both Warragul and Drouin which are zoned for bulky goods and ideal for development, and have the potential to generate further economic and employment growth,” the strategy states.