Gunnedah will brainstorm ways to spend $50,000 in state funding to support economic growth and build better business in the town centre but local operators say it won’t be enough.
The $1 million NSW government-supported Future Towns Program was announced last year in 20 regional towns across the state. Just a handful secured funding the north west including Gunnedah, Manilla and Tenterfield.
Some themes suggested by Gunnedah council include revamp of street front and façade, precinct branding and destination marketing, visual merchandising as well as ideas around hospitality and restaurant revitalisation. Consultants will work with Gunnedah businesses in mid-May to seek direct input on the areas they would like addressed.
As part of the funding, $20,000 has been allocated for a specific but yet to be determined project.
But one business operator described the funding as small change to what is required to make a difference.
“$50,000 won’t go anywhere, it’s like a drop in the ocean,” he said.
The Conadilly St business operator said about half his in-store customers were tourists and much of the main street trade was weather-dependent.
“What influences us is the weather,” he said. “It was so hot for so long this summer but council can’t do much about that.”
He thought the Future Towns funding would be better spent on tourism research and finding ideas about the desires of those customers.
Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson said the program will make a “real difference” in regional towns.
“We have the nation’s strongest economy and we need to make sure the regional areas have an opportunity to be a part of that success,” Mr Anderson said.
A key focus of the program is assisting towns and small business to take advantage of the NBN roll-out. But a check of the NBN roll-out map for the Namoi Valley Independent office shows a “fibre to the curb” is planned for the first half of 2018. We’ll keep you posted.