Gateway project showcased

"A GREAT day of networking." "Informative." "A really good opportunity for businesses."

It was all positive feedback at the Gateway for Growth exhibition on Friday in Taree.

Organised by Manning Valley Business Chamber, the event was a great opportunity for local businesses to get together, gain brand exposure and meet other likeminded people within the Manning business community.

It was also an opportunity for the chamber to showcase its work on the Northern Gateway Project application, and a chance for those present to see exactly what the project will look like, its benefits to the community and why it is so important for the area.

Chamber president Geoff Jackson said he had received great feedback from the different exhibitors and was particularly pleased the specifics of the Northern Gateway Project were able to be conveyed to the audience.

Steve Attkins, economic development manager for the chamber, lead the presentation on the gateway which included a wrap up of project details, benefits and outcomes. Of interest to those present was the fact that 572 trucks currently travel on our local roads, which has a significant impact on the state of the roads and bridges. The transport hub will see this reduced by about 400, significantly reducing maintenance costs of roads with predicted savings of between one and three million dollars a year.

Between 500 and 600 jobs are expected to be created over a three year period and it's estimated that the project will bring an additional $200 million into the community.

But it was the impact the project will have on small to medium local businesses, which gained the most attention at the exhibition.

"It will mean that small and medium businesses will be able to aggregate loads and that they'll actually have the resources here to be able to distribute their goods outside the district and interstate, where before trucks wouldn't even stop here," Geoff said.

"But there's so many other things that will come out of this, this community needs the Northern Gateway Project."

Also high on the agenda at the exhibition were the outcomes of a recent economic analysis of the Manning Valley, by economic consultant Reuben Lawrence.

Reuben looked at a range of factors impacting the local area including gross regional product, productivity, industry structure, economic diversity, business investment (including total/average turnover), population, demographic profile, labour market, private consumption and investment, property market, tourism, transport and public investment and other developments.

"It's not all pretty," said Geoff.

"But it gives us something to focus on, really looking at our weaknesses but also out strengths."

The analysis uncovered areas of growth and decline in the region, assisting the chamber to look at ways they can improve the area into the future.

The exhibitors were not all members of the business chamber and following the success of the day the chamber plans to hold annual Gateway 4 Growth days.

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