In the short space of time since their December election, the new Lithgow City Council has turned its full attention to ensuring a prosperous future for the city and its many residents.
The Council is working with a consortium of specialists to position Lithgow as a global example of a city that successfully transitions to a broad-based, modern economy with a diversity of job opportunities This is recognition that the city’s current supply of high paying jobs in mining and electricity generation will diminish over the next decade.
The initiative has been called the Lithgow Emerging Economy Project (LEEP). LEEP will pivot the city from its historical foundations as a centre of industry, energy and innovation and re-position it to be more ready for the future.
Mayor Maree Statham said today “The LEEP team will shape the vision through which we will reinvent and invigorate Lithgow’s economy. It will provide a clear pathway for attracting investment, new businesses and diverse, skilled jobs, including for young people and workers currently in the coal and energy sectors.”
“A new future for Lithgow and its seven valleys will leverage our unique competitive advantages. These include endowments that support new forms of energy production, infrastructure such as rail and highways, a solid base of the right sort of human capital, knowhow and a pivotal location in Australia’s energy and transport system.”
“Lithgow is the link between the fast growing Western Sydney to our east, and the broad Central West and Orana to the west. We are well positioned to take advantage of regional economic opportunities such as the new airport in Western Sydney, inland rail and a renewable energy zone,” Mayor Statham said.
The LEEP team visited Lithgow in February and early April for consultations with Council, the NSW Government, Lithgow District Chamber of Commerce and business and community leaders, such as the Lithgow Community Power Project. They gained understanding of the current economic, social and environmental base, growth projections and opportunities.
The team is also meeting with leading employers in the region, including Energy Australia, Centennial Coal, and Thales, and visited key sites such as Greenspot’s Wallerawang redevelopment, Mt Piper power station, Foundations Portland, and Lake Lyell.
Mayor Statham said “We have heard how stable, bulk power can lead to a boom in local manufacturing and industry. It is my view that Lithgow has significant opportunity to even further build its reputation as an energy provider for NSW with a switch to scaled-up renewable energy, taking advantage of existing infrastructure, including transmission lines and water resources.”
Opportunities to become a hub for the circular economy will also be explored, along with the creation of precincts specialising in advanced manufacturing, transport and logistics, health and aged care. The potential of agribusiness and tourism will also be assessed.
Issues such as the need for affordable housing, high quality schools and higher education in the region to attract skilled workers and grow the community will also be considered, alongside initiatives to make Lithgow a great place to live and work.
Mayor Statham concluded, “This Council is firmly focused on ensuring that Lithgow not only survives the change that is already upon us, but that it thrives into the future.”
The LEEP Action Plan is scheduled to be delivered in late 2022.