Narrabri Shire Council will apply for a grant through the Regional NSW Business Case and Strategy Development Fund to provide the community with an officer and shopfront dedicated to the Special Activation Precinct.

“If we get this right, we can change this place. I really want to pursue this, and council can be the lead agency on this,” said councillor John Clements.

Cr Clements said the proposed officer role and shopfront, based in Narrabri’s central business district, would be a point of contact for community members and businesses to ensure the region makes the most of the opportunities associated with being a SAP location.

Narrabri was announced as a Special Activation Precinct in November 2020.

A SAP is a dedicated area in a regional location identified by the NSW government to become a ‘thriving business hub’, bringing together
planning and investment to boost the economy and create jobs.

Other SAP locations in NSW include Moree, Parkes, Wagga Wagga, Williamstown and the Snowy Mountains.

The NSW Department of Planning has said the precinct will bring further economic growth to the Narrabri region by leveraging the Inland Rail and the Northern NSW Inland Port, providing direct access to global and international markets.

At this point, the development of Narrabri’s SAP and its exact location is still in the planning stages.

NSW government representatives have held community consultation sessions at The Crossing Theatre and via Zoom at a Narrabri Shire of Commerce meeting to discuss plans with locals.

At last Tuesday’s ordinary council meeting, Cr Clements put forward a recommendation acknowledging the Special Activation Precinct investigations and the Northern NSW Inland Port are ‘once in a lifetime opportunities’ for the Narrabri Shire and should therefore incorporate the inclusion of a dedicated council officer to assist with this project and the grant application.

The recommendation was seconded by Cr Rohan Boehm and passed by the eight councillors present at Tuesday’s meeting.

As a result, council will develop a specific economic development strategy for the Northern NSW Inland Port, incorporate the development of a shopfront located in the Narrabri central business district into the grant application and lead the economic development entity in the Narrabri Shire, and therefore should apply for the Regional NSW Business Case and Strategy Grant.

“We want to make this place regionally significant, make somewhere for our young people so they don’t have to go away – we want to get some industry in this town,” said Cr Clements.

“The SAP would offer a chance for industries such as manufacturing, support for the hydrogen industry, containerisation of grain.”

Cr Clements said being located within the SAP was an appealing opportunity for the business and industry sectors because the NSW government will be providing the start-up infrastructure, from power to parking spots.

“The SAP would be an attractive place for a business to be based because a lot of the infrastructure expenses are covered by the state government,” said Cr Clements.

He said if Narrabri SHire Council received the grant, the dedicated officer could assist council staff with matters such as providing business owners interested in moving to town with local information and liaising with government.

“This is the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and we have six months to make this work … we’re talking about serious opportunity here,” commented Cr Boehm.

“I concur with all of the suggestions. The staff are working very hard on the SAP process,” added mayor Ron Campbell.

Acting general manager Glenn Inglis agreed there should be a ‘SAP person here as a reference point for the community’, and he would be pushing for more resources at a local level at an upcoming meeting in Parkes.

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