Cobar Shire Council staff were all smiles last week following Deputy Premier John Barilaro’s announcement that Cobar will receive $4.4M for a new Industrial Estate.
Some locals have however suggested the NSW Government funding could be put to better use and expressed their disappointment through social media saying it could be used to secure water or be spent on improving the existing industrial estate.
Council’s general manager Peter Vlatko explained the grant process saying their application for grant funding began last year when the local economy was more robust.
“Council was approached by a number of businesses interested in setting up in town.
“They couldn’t find appropriate size blocks to lease,” Mr Vlatko said.
He said the matter was discussed at Council meetings with councillors agreeing that Cobar could do with more available industrial land.
Councillors however determined their budget couldn’t afford it and they directed council staff to look for grant opportunities.
“The Government provides grants for certain goals,” Mr Vlatko explained.
“In this case there was a grant for economic development for NSW and an Industrial Park that would be ready for new businesses that come to town fit the criteria of the grant.”
Mr Vlatko said before considering building a new estate they looked at the current industrial land.
“There was no potential for anything to go down there.
“There’s some properties for sale but they’re not big enough,” Mr Vlatko said.
“Other properties will never be for sale because the owners don’t want to sell them.
“There’s people living there as well as businesses trying to grow and they can’t.”
Mr Vlatko said council was “not in charge” of any land in the existing industrial estate and could not force owners to make improvements to their properties such as putting in proper driveways which would help with water erosion to the roads in the industrial area.
“If we have this new industrial estate then the council will be able to influence and hopefully support new businesses coming into town.”
Mr Vlatko said as part of the grant process council had to do their due diligence.
“For us to get the grant, we had to prove that there were businesses that were prepared to move there and we had to demonstrate that.
“We had to go through a business case to justify the investment was not just going to be a good return for the State Government but also for Council.
“As part of the application, we had to prove that businesses were prepared to move there, some local, some from interstate.”
He said council had received interest for a transport hub, a goat transfer/sale yard and the bio hub.
“There were plenty of businesses who had an interest and it was important for council to have another option.
“And when we finish the new estate, we anticipate it will have different sized blocks, all properly secured with good roads and proper drainage.”