PROMOTING growth opportunities in the Wimmera to reach a $5 billion economy is a focus for the region’s peak advocacy body.
Wimmera Development Association executive director Chris Sounness said the region had a $3.3 billion economy – but the community should no longer accept business as usual.
He said a $5 billion economy within a decade was achievable – but community leaders needed to ensure they considered the potential for population growth within a changing climate that was posing significant challenge.
Preliminary planning stages are underway for an investment forum aimed at showcasing the Wimmera to its residents and to people and businesses who might invest in the region.
Mr Sounness said the forum, to occur within the next 12 months, would showcase investment opportunities in the region such as renewable energy and mining, and in key employment areas and support networks.
“Businesses – including those that exist locally and those that might invest in the Wimmera – need to be ready to deal with the changing environments in many definitions of the word,” Mr Sounness said.
"Opportunities around energy, for example, are huge, and there are ways to create it and use it. That leads to more job opportunities and more careers for people here.
“This investment forum will help tell those stories and share the opportunities to set us on the path to becoming a $5 billion economy.”
Mr Sounness said people should aspire to live in a region they wanted and deserved.
“Everyone in the Wimmera and southern Mallee are looking for a great place to live, with a healthy and productive landscape. They want a natural environment that is healthy and attractive and want the opportunity to get ahead,” he said.
“But what does that look like in 10 years’ time? We all have the power to shape what that looks like and we need to show leadership and aspiration in developing that strategy.”