Shire agrees to renew membership of Wimmera Development Association

The security of being assured a stronger voice has led Northern Grampians Shire Council to renew its membership with the Wimmera Development Association.

Cr Merrilee Reid was passionate about council renewing its membership of the Wimmera Development Association.

Cr Merrilee Reid was passionate about council renewing its membership of the Wimmera Development Association.

Council, recognising the benefits of being part of a regional approach when taking up issues with various government departments, has voted in favour of renewing its membership for three years, at a cost of $79,886.

Cr Merrilee Reid said she felt council stood to benefit greatly from being in partnership with the Wimmera Development Association and moved that the three year renewal be approved.

"I am very passionate about this recommendation," Cr Reid said.

"The association's role is to attract new investment, further develop existing business and promote the Wimmera's economic development opportunities, both within and outside the region.

"WDA is a vital link between industry and government and has a proven track record in attracting new development to the region. It has an excellent reputation within the region as well as with business organisations and government representatives."

Cr Reid said the membership would guarantee council a stronger voice.

"When we try and do things on our own, it doesn't have the same impact or substance," she said.

"By being part of this organisation and working together with the other shires around us, it gives us more bang for our buck."

Cr Karen Hyslop had previously moved that council not renew its membership, but the motion lapsed without a seconder. She then spoke against the motion for membership renewal.

"I have been on council now for about 18 months and I have not seen a lot of value from this membership," Cr Hyslop said.

"I would rather that we not be a part of it and the $79,000 could be used to relieve some of the burden on our ratepayers. We can put a bit back into their pockets."

Cr Tony Driscoll said he shared Cr Reid's passion for wanting to be involved in a regional body.

"The reality is, we need to regionalise our efforts," he said.

"Collectively, the five municipalities in the Wimmera and Southern Mallee represent more than 50,000 residents and have the opportunity to gain access to key political influencers and decision makers which might not be as easy to achieve as a single local government organisation.

"This investment, I believe is a marvellous investment for our shire and our ratepayers."

A report presented to council by the Director Economic and Community, Jim Nolan, echoed the beliefs of both Crs Reid and Driscoll.

Mr Nolan said the association had successfully delivered economic and community development for the region for over twenty three years.

He said the association facilitates and delivers a number of programs and services for its member councils and organisations. These include Leadership Wimmera, the Regional

Skilled Migration Program, implementation of the Wimmera Southern Mallee Regional Strategic Plan, and advocacy on a number of regionally-significant projects emanating from that plan.

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