Bright outlook on the business front 2019
BOWEN'S business leaders are optimistic about the year ahead, but say there is work to do to ensure confidence and economic prosperity.
Securing jobs and sustainable industry have again been listed as the main priorities going forward.
Bowen Collinsville Enterprise chairman Paul McLaughlin said the outlook will depend largely on four "big ticket items”.
"The things I think will really help Bowen are the Urannah Dam, Council's Marine Centre of Excellence, the upcoming prawn farm at Guthalungra and Adani's Carmichael Mine project,” he said.
"If we can get those four firing on all cylinders, it will go a long way to making Bowen a vibrant town.”
Mr McLaughlin said pushing the Urannah Dam project along would remain BCE's main focus for the New Year.
With a feasibility study into the dam set to be completed next month, BCE hopes to have an Environmental Impact Study (EIS) and funding model in place by the end of the year.
Mr McLaughlin said BCE would work from the sidelines to help the four projects listed get off the ground.
"Bowen needs to grow and get to a size where we are self-fulfilling; those four projects will help increase the numbers,” he said.
Bowen Chamber of Commerce chairman Bruce Hedditch said the town's economy picked up after Tropical Cyclone Debbie, but was starting to show signs of slowing down.
He was concerned by a lack of infrastructure spending and private investment in Bowen.
"We need to look at infrastructure spending; there is not a lot occurring compared to what you see in the southeast corner.” he said.
Mr Hedditch said another main issue that needed to be addressed were vacant shopfronts in Bowen's CBD and the Bowen TAFE College.
By 2020, Mr Hedditch said, he would like to see a revival of Bowen's retail market and a new attitude towards training at TAFE.
"We've got a college that's not being utilised whatsoever. It used to have 30 staff, now it's down to 10, and all big companies in the area are training their apprentices in Townsville. I think that's absurd,” he said.
Whitsundays Mayor Andrew Willcox said ongoing progress on the Marine Centre of Excellence was high on the agenda as well as driving tourism through events such as the Queensland Rally Championships in May.
Cr Willcox added by the end of the year he would like to see the shops and businesses doing better than they currently are.
"We need more jobs and activity. The best thing Bowen has going for it is its people but we need jobs for our youth,” he said.
"It's a great place to raise a family but when they grow up they often have to leave.
"If we get more industry we can allow them to get educated and live here.”