The Tamworth business community have had their say at the first of three Leader’s forums, delivered by Tamworth Business Chamber.
This week’s State of the City event drew in a sold out crowd of 150 guests, eager to question Tamworth Regional Council on what is happening in the city.
“There are a lot of projects and movement for our area, and everyone seems happy for this, but the questions were around when it is going to happen,” said Tamworth Business Chamber President, Matthew Sweeney.
Hot topics up for discussion were water infrastructure, particularly with the Dungowan Dam project and water recycling projects, the intermodal hub, the housing crisis and future developments in Tamworth and the ever popular, University of New England Campus. Tamworth Regional Council’s General Manager, Paul Bennett, was happy to reply.
“The Dungowan Dam was always going to be a longer-term project and we knew it would take seven years to build. So, we are looking around 2030 before that dam would even be online, which is why we are pushing hard around the purified water treatment plant.”
“The plant will give us considerable uplift in our current water security while we are waiting for Dungowan Dam to eventuate,” Mr Bennett said.
Be prepared to see movement on the Intermodal Hub, with contractors to begin mobilising their site from Monday.
“We expect that they will be fully mobilised by the end of next week and then it will be a six month build; we expect this to be completed by September,” Mr Bennet said.
As for Tamworth’s growth, Council’s Blueprint 100 has the city’s best interest covered following community concerns.
“People want to know what is happening with schooling, with all of these new houses, is there land set aside for new school and roads,” said Tamworth Business Chamber President, Matthew Sweeney.
Mr Bennet said that is the benefit of the Blueprint 100, doing the early planning where this new housing will be and Council making sure all of those things that makes a community, not just the houses, are included in the planning.
“Council owns a sizable patch of land on the corner of Browns Lane and Moore Creek Road and that has been out forward as a potential school for that side of town,” he said.
Meanwhile, Tamworth will not back down from any opportunity to secure a University in town, despite delays from the University of New England.
“We are not prepared to take a back seat around the design for a University for our town or our region so we are really looking for UNE to reaffirm their commitment to Council and the community that they are absolutely committed to the campus in Tamworth, and if there is a revised project timeline they need share that for realistic expectations on what and when it is going to go ahead.” said Mr Bennett.
And finally, after two decades of hard work, planning and many hoops to jump through, funding is on the table for Tamworth’s new Aquatic Centre.
“Never before have we had a $15 million commitment in the bank from the State government so we can move forward with a state-of-the-art facility. We are thankful the State Government has committed that money through their Centre of Excellence program.”
Following of from this weeks’ event Tamworth Business Chamber will maintain its advocacy for local business and ensure the communication channels remain open.
“We will make Council accountable for what they say,” said Mr Sweeney.
“Our main role here at the chamber is ensure transparency especially with the State, Federal and local government requirements. We want to make sure we are the voice of the people.”
Tamworth Business Chamber is confident local industry remains strong, with a silver lining to a tough few years following the drought and pandemic, to more recent stresses on the economy with CPI and interest rate increases, most businesses have built the needed resilience.
“Businesses we are interacting with say the next 12 to 18 months will be tough on the budget with cost pressures, employment and housing crisis issues but most remain positive.” said Mr Sweeney.
“The risk factor of businesses opening, starting, and operating in Tamworth is 4 per cent, compared to the Gold Coast at 20 per cent. So, four in 100 businesses might not make it.”