Plans to stimulate region

A LATROBE Valley-first investment reference group is hoped to stimulate economic investment into the region.

A “lack of economic development” in the region has instigated Latrobe City Mayor Ed Vermeulen to propose the establishment of a Latrobe City Investment Reference Group; a proposal accepted by council.

This reference group, to consist of developers, investors, financiers and other business groups will serve council in an “advisory capacity” on all development matters, according to Cr Vermeulen.

“As mayor I am concerned about a decided lack of economic development in Latrobe City,” Cr Vermeulen said.

“We have some significant challenges coming up and we need to be proactive.”

After recognising a trend in Valley developers going outside the region to work on major projects, Cr Vermeulen said it was “vital to take every possible chance to advance the region”.

After admitting to concerns raised about stringent local and state planning processes, he said those concerns were “to some extent… reflective in this group”.

Latrobe Valley developers recently recorded a staggering downturn in commercial development, propelling council to establish the group.

Cr Vermeulen said part of the scope of the group would be to expect change in planning laws.

“It’s vital we engage with those people locally,” he said.

“Attracting investment is only one part of it.

“The other part is to provide an opportunity to have discussions around various possibilities.”

While a Mayoral Investment Committee currently exists in Latrobe City Council, Cr Vermeulen said the LCIRG was an external group, providing expert advice to council from the start, adding the MIC “lacked a certain inventiveness”.

Council officers are expected to prepare Terms of Reference for the group, with these terms to be endorsed by the 3 September Latrobe City Council meeting.