Latrobe’s economic shift

Repositioning Latrobe City as the ‘engineering capital of Australia’ is the essence of a draft economic development strategy now out for public feedback.

It seeks to provide a framework for the region over the next four years with two focus areas – becoming the nation’s engineering capital and how to deliver that initiative.

Education and training; branding; attracting investment and infrastructure are among the key actions, along with business development; facilitation; advocacy; networking opportunities and developing strategic alliances.

On Monday night councillors voted to release the draft document for community comment, with many describing the strategy as a comprehensive report with positive goals.

“I’ve got to say the proposed strategy is very comprehensive and it’s one of the better ones I see rising out of council,” councillor Peter Gibbons said.

“(We’ve got some major challenges) within some of our major industries here and we have to start seriously looking at a position of economic development.

“But also maintain pressure on State Government about what could occur here if we don’t get the support required to do some of the things within this strategy.”

Investigating the potential to establish an engineers’ hall of fame and museum, to attract new timber-manufacturing businesses and to establish engineering-related research and development agencies across Latrobe City are among the strategy’s goals.

So too are developing capability profiles for the region’s various industries; conducting an annual power generator forum and continuing plans for a tech school.

The draft strategy’s introduction describes Latrobe City as a municipality that “faces unique challenges, given the reliance on traditional industries, such as the coal-fired power generation sector”.

Speaking in support of releasing the document, councillor Graeme Middlemiss reflected similar sentiments.

“The coal winds of economic decline are coming… we need to desperately be focused on economic development,” Cr Middlemiss said.

“As our major industries decline and job losses come, we need to be in a position to have alternative industries in place.

“To be honest I think this goes a long way towards that.”

Cr Middlemiss said he hoped residents would take the time to read the strategy and provide feedback.

Individuals can comment on the draft strategy, which includes costings for potential actions, until Wednesday, 6 April.

Visit and search for the Economic Development Strategy 2016-2020 in the ‘Have Your Say’ section.