Building a strong economic future for Central Goldfields

A detailed report on the response and recovery actions that have been undertaken by Council in response to the COVID-19 pandemic was endorsed at a Meeting of Council this week (15/09).

The report identifies both the work that has been carried out during the pandemic and the work Council is now focused on to support our local business community as we emerge from COVID-19.

This work continues to be informed by the Economic Response and Recovery Taskforce – a group of 10 local business representatives from a range of sectors who have met fortnightly since April to advise Council and its Economic Development and Tourism teams on how best to respond.

Central Goldfields Shire Chief Administrator Noel Harvey said the COVID-19 pandemic has challenged us all and none more than our local business community.

“To see the enormity of the work that has been done by Council officers over the past seven months was a valuable exercise not only for us as Administrators to understand but a great opportunity for our community to see and understand the key role and impact Local Government is having in this space.

“Congratulations to the Council staff involved with this work and thank you to the ten members of the Economic Response and Recovery Taskforce for their time and the valuable contribution they’ve made in keeping us informed and driving this work.

“I look forward to seeing Council continue to work together with our local business community and the Taskforce as we build a strong economic future for the Central Goldfields.”

A summary version of the Council Report is provided below:

Actions to date:

Economic Response and Recovery Taskforce

10 local business representatives from a range of sectors, working with us to report on local impacts and how to respond. Outcomes have included:

  • Identified high priority actions from Economic Development and Tourism & Events Strategies
  • Advocacy to Council for targeted financial relief for hard-hit local businesses, and extended support beyond September
  • Advocacy to Dr Ann Webster MP for federal support measures to be extended
  • Advocacy to Bendigo Regional Tourism Board for a greater share of state funds to support local tourism
  • Meeting with the Committee for Maryborough to discuss collaborative actions
  • Established working sub-groups for tourism and accommodation and retail support; with a food & fibre working group to be established soon

    Council actions (with support from Taskforce)

  • Financial Support Package (released in March)
    • Rent waived for businesses occupying Council buildings and facilities
  • #GoLocalFirst – Social media campaign encouraging community to support local businesses and services.

    Facebook – @CentralGoldfields – Go Local Instragram @centralgoldfields_golocal

  • Jumpstart High Street Maryborough – Working with businesses to devise and implement joint actions to attract people to the Maryborough CBD
  • Tourism Tribe Training – Visitor Information Centre staff undertaking training focused on helping businesses emerge from COVID-19 with a stronger digital footprint
  • Digital footprint – Visitor Information Centre staff working with tourism operators to increase their digital footprint, including listing on the Australian Tourism Data Warehouse
  • Regional Promotion – the Central Goldfields Promotional Group developing TV campaign, social media content and image library to better promote the region
  • Better Approvals – streamlined ‘concierge’ process now in place for new or expanding businesses through the permit processes for planning, building and environmental health
  • Small Business Friendly Charter – Council has committed to 12-month process to improve services to businesses and build relationships with business groups
  • Direct contact –
    • Database of 550 local businesses developed
    • Phone calls to businesses in early weeks of the pandemic
    • Weekly email newsletter collating information on state, federal and regional sources of support, online events and training in business adaptation
    • Response to business requests for support and information
  • Additional resources – two additional resources appointed to Economic Development under the Working for Victoria scheme:
    • Steve Barnes – Economic Recovery Coordinator
    • Catharine Densley – ‘Support Local’ Campaigns Officer
  • Revised procurement policy –
    • Greater weighting to local content in tender evaluations
    • Higher threshold allowing direct procurement of local goods and services
  • All current debt recovery actions suspended
  • Extended rate payments to 30 September 2020 with no interest
  • Waived interest on overdue rates and waste charges from 16 March 2020
  • Changed payment systems so suppliers are paid weekly to improve business cash flow
  • Dedicated business contact officer within Council
  • Extended expiry dates for septic, building and planning permits for 12 months at no cost upon request
  • Refunded permit fees for events and business activities that have been cancelled or closed as directed by Government upon request
  • Waived building or planning permits fees under Council’s Community Support Policy

    **Council is currently developing an extended response beyond September, 2020.

Next steps:

Economic recovery is a major priority and the following actions are some of the ways we are working to build a strong economic future for the Central Goldfields Shire.

Capital Works Program

The 2020/21 Council Budget features a $15.9 million capital works program to help stimulate our local economy – with this program of work made possible thanks to the securing of $9.5 million in funding from both Federal and State governments. This will support local businesses and jobs during the works phase and provide lasting community infrastructure. The projects include:

  • Maryborough Outdoor Pool upgrade – $2 million
  • Community halls and facilities improvements – $565,000
  • Talbot Town Hall toilet upgrade – $250,000
  • Energy Breakthrough infrastructure upgrades – $500,000 ($1.5 million over three years)
  • Central Goldfields Art Gallery redevelopment – $675,000
  • Maryborough Skate and Scooter Park – $645,000
  • Carisbrook Recreation Reserve upgrade – $4 million
  • Worsley Cottage repairs – $150,000
  • Carisbrook Scout Hall and Lions Club roof repairs – $10,000
  • Maryborough Community House – carpark lighting and disability access – $10,000
  • New footpaths in Bealiba, Carisbrook, Talbot and Dunolly – $81,000

Implementation of Economic Development Strategy

  • Maryborough Railway Station Activation project
    • Stage 1 to include co-working facility and small business support hub (early 2021)
    • Long term master plan and business case (to be developed 2020-21)
  • Economic Development Officer – on-going position – recruitment occurring in Sep/Oct
  • Investment attraction plan, including Maryborough food manufacturing cluster
  • Resident Attraction Strategy – collaborating with Committee for Maryborough’s Attraction and Retention Working Group to identify ways that local employers can attract and retain staff
  • Better Approvals – completed

Implementation of Tourism & Events Strategy

  • Central Goldfields Art Gallery redevelopment
  • Social Media Strategy
  • World Heritage listing for the Victorian Goldfields – participating in the regional process to develop a bid for this game-changing recognition
  • Visitor Information Centre relocation to be incorporated into Maryborough Railway Station Master Plan

Strategic Land Use Planning

  • Implementation of Planning Scheme Review and Population, Housing and Residential Settlement Strategy – providing direction for new residential growth and supporting the construction industry
  • Industrial Strategy being developed

/Public Release. View in full here.