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General News

2 February, 2023

Council pushes ahead for strong economic growth

MAREEBA Shire Council has big plans to foster the shire’s economic development as sales from the Mareeba Industrial park bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars and private businesses are being sought for the management and development of the Mareeba Airport.

By Rhys Thomas

Council pushes ahead for strong economic growth - feature photo

Only expressions of interest are being sought at this time, not official tenders, so council can see what ideas interested parties have for the management and development of the airport.

While council is asking for proprietors to run the airport, it has stressed that the airport will remain in council’s hands and not be sold.

Mayor Angela Toppin said managing airports was not council’s core business and having a private developer take on the task would be more beneficial to the shire.

“Council may have employees but they don’t necessarily have the expertise to drive something like the airport,” she said.

“We learned that with the Mareeba Industrial Park, we are not very good at marketing because that is not our core business.

“A real estate agent has taken that on and they are driving that and making it happen for Mareeba and bringing prosperity to the area.”

The formula of delegating council assets has already proved effective after Mareeba Property Office took over the promotion and selling of Mareeba Industrial Park land in the in October last year.

In this financial year to date, council has recorded close to $1 million in sales for seven parcels of land at the park with 15 lots still available for purchase.

CEO Peter Franks said as council did not even have the funds to properly develop the airport on its own, the expressions of interest would hopefully attract experienced and knowledgeable applicants.

“If you want something to grow you have to invest money into it and council and the community doesn’t have that kind of money,” he said.

“So is there a private player out there who wants to invest more money into the airport to help it grow and develop?.

“All we are doing at this stage is putting it out there to ask ‘is there anybody interested and provide us with what your ideas are’.”

If council’s interest is piqued by any of the offers they will then be asked to provide a formal offer.

“It is now an opportune time to explore opportunities to maximise the economic potential of the Mareeba Airport to assist in the economic development of the shire,” Mayor Top-pin said.

“The potential for economic growth in the airport was the driving force behind the $23 million upgrade completed in 2019.

“We are now at the point where council can facilitate the next stage of development.”

While council is open to offers from the private sector, Mayor Toppin said under no circumstances would council sell the airport.

“This is only stage one of the process and no decision with regard to the future of the airport has been made,” she said.

“If there are any interesting proposals, then council move to the next stage which is calling for formal tenders and this is when the details will become apparent.

“All proposals will be carefully scrutinised by council and those that are found to meet council's objectives and offer significant community and economic benefits, would then be invited to move to Stage 2 and submit formal tenders for council's consideration.”

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