New business leader pushing for ‘shovel ready’ projects
BIGGENDEN'S newly appointed Chamber of Commerce president believes a push for "shovel ready" projects could bring the North Burnett town out of recession.
Degilbo resident and former industrial relations judge Kevin Edwards was elected as the business groups' president, after three committee members stood down several months ago.
Mr Edwards is part of the new look committee, with Glen Martin joining as vice president, Mark Copeland as treasurer, and Moira Thompson as secretary.
Eddie Chandler and Robyn Znatnajs will be working as the assistant treasurer, and assistant secretary, respectively.
Being a part of the Biggenden area for almost 10 years, Mr Edwards said he wanted to join the committee to make sure the town wasn't forgotten.
"Over the next few months I'll be suggesting a plan to make sure Biggenden is recognised as we move further into the future during this recession," he said.
"Our first act with the new committee was to encourage the town's businesses to support us, and allow us to do the work while they run their businesses."
Their first act of business was to slash membership fees, while pushing for upgrades for the town's water, and its CBD.
"If we can look at maintaining what we have, we can look at what we can do for the future," Mr Edwards said.
"We will continue to talk to council about what is happening in relation to developments in town."
After being on the bench for nearly 20 years, working through conflicts and trials during union strikes, Mr Edwards believes he has the tools to lobby groups to help improve Biggenden.
One thing he's become aware of upon analysis is the absence of planned projects, which have the potential to begin at a moment's notice.
"What I've found in my discussions is those who have shovel ready projects get the money," he said.
"We talked about the water, and we have a feasibility study, but we haven't got that to the shovel ready stage yet."
Mr Edwards references universities in Brisbane, who have shovel ready projects ready for when the Federal Government gives out funding.
"When the government have money they want to spend, they want to be able to employ people tomorrow, so we're looking at things such as main roads, and more," he said.
"I've been trying to ascertain why governments shouldn't look at low rate areas like ours to have more money available for feasibility studies.
"Projects such as the road out to Degilbo, which is a mess out there.
"But if there's money towards a feasibility study, it'll come closer to being shovel ready for when the government ready to give funding."
His promotion for shovel ready projects has now become his war cry, asking at the Chamber's last meeting for a list of projects that could progress to the shovel ready stage.
"We may have a limited capacity as a smaller area in Queensland, but if we can make those steps to get ready to get to that point, we'll be able to create jobs for the area," Mr Edwards said.