Murraylands businesses need certainty, Economic Development Board hears

Advisors: Economic Development Board members Rob Kerin and Raymond Spencer visit Monarto Zoo. Photo: Peri Strathearn.
Advisors: Economic Development Board members Rob Kerin and Raymond Spencer visit Monarto Zoo. Photo: Peri Strathearn.

Power and water security are the biggest barriers to economic growth in the Murraylands, according to one of the state government's key advisors on the matter.

Raymond Spencer and his Economic Development Board colleagues visited the region last Wednesday and Thursday to meet businesses and civic leaders and find out what to whisper in Premier Jay Weatherill's ear.

Through visits to Bowhill Engineering's workshop, Costa Adelaide Mushrooms' facility, Thomas Foods' meat works, Beston Pure Foods' cheese factory and a soiree at Murray Bridge Regional Gallery, the theme they picked up was a need for more certainty.

A secure water supply and affordable power and water would do wonders, he said, as would a greater willingness for people to consider working in the food industry.

"How do we work with high school people in year 10, 11 and 12 and let them see the career opportunities in some of the industries here?" he asked.

"At Thomas Foods, you may come in on the floor, but most of their management came out of that.

"You need people with skills in not just food management, but robotics, engineering, global marketing.

"People don't see the opportunities, and it's some quite high-paying jobs."

Board member Rob Kerin said the same was true of meat processing towns elsewhere.

"Australians don't want to work in meat works," he said.

"But some of these jobs you wouldn't ever see a carcass."

Still, Mr Spencer said the Murraylands' future was not all about the food industry.

The Bend Motorsport Park would be a game-changer, he said, and would employ 1600 people after it was finished next year.

There was also much talk about the potential for more regional tourism, how to tap into the Murraylands' proximity to Adelaide Airport and the direct flights to China starting up this year; and how simplifying regulation of the River Murray could make life easier for everyone.

The board meets four times per year, once in a regional setting.

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