THE proposed Marong business park is either the Holy Grail of job creation and economic investment for our region, or an absolute nightmare that refuses to go away.
The City of Greater Bendigo has struggled to manage this important issue and the fact that as many as four successive groups of councillors have been involved in the process thus far highlights how important it is that this time Bendigo gets it right.
Two years ago, an independent panel found there was insufficient existing local policy to support the business park, but changes proposed to the Greater Bendigo Planning Scheme local planning policy framework were supported by adopted plans, strategies and studies.
The panel was also not convinced the land at Marong was the only suitable site for a business park but said it was not its role to recommend suitable alternative sites.
The City of Greater Bendigo was effectively asked to go and do some more homework around its strategic planning and industry requirements, and so now it wants to get the issue of the Marong business park back on the table and settled, as quickly as is practically possible.
Moreover, it believes it has to.
But for one local family, nothing could be further from the truth, and the Carter family deserve to be treated with respect and compassion as they seek the best possible outcome from this predicament.
For them that means staying put, and the City of Greater Bendigo turning its attention elsewhere.
To the City of Greater Bendigo, the best possible outcome would be to reach an agreement that means the Marong business park proceeds, and the Carter family are fairly and appropriately compensated.
Senior council staff and officers who have an involvement in this issue say Bendigo is struggling to retain some of its bigger industries and more significant employers.
They believe the establishment of this business park will not only help alleviate this situation, it will actually help turn it further to Bendigo’s advantage.
Strip this debate back to one of simple economics, and most people would say it’s easy.
But it’s not that simple – at least for the affected land owners and their supporters.
Bendigo needs to attract industry, and cannot simply rely on organic growth from within to keep up with our projected population growth and our status as a major regional centre.
A win for Bendigo is also a win for the surrounding region, and for many smaller communities who look to Bendigo for employment, economic support and ultimately their own community’s growth.
The next big thing for Marong is, according to the City of Greater Bendigo, the next big thing for all of us.