Mayor Col Murray says Tamworth Regional Council could follow Nashville's lead in growth

LESSON LEARNT: Col Murray says the business community drives growth in Nashville.
LESSON LEARNT: Col Murray says the business community drives growth in Nashville.

MAYOR Col Murray says council doesn’t have to take the lead in the growth and development in the region and wants to see more collaboration in building the Tamworth of the future.

The Tamworth Regional Council (TRC) mayor returned from an economic development trip to our American sister city, Nashville.

Cr Murray has made a number of overseas trips with the goal with boosting interest in investing in the region, but he said there was a lot that could be learnt from Nashville, a city boasting a population 10 times larger than the Tamworth region.

EDITORIAL: Tamworth Regional Council globetrotting with answers close to home

He said it was time to start with a blank page get a “strong consensus” on the what the region is striving for in the next 10 to 20 years.

“There’s a strong community culture in Nashville,” Cr Murray told The Leader.

“They’re all running in the same direction.

“A lot of the growth and development in Nashville is delivered by the business community.”

Cr Murray said the city leaders were not just council and it was a lead that could be followed locally.

He said the Tamworth region needed to work on retaining locals with many forced to move away to seek higher education, training and opportunities.

“We have an issue retaining our smart people,” he said. “We’re exporting our talent at a rapid rate.”

Cr Murray was joined on the trip by TRC general manager, Paul Bennett, and director of business and community, John Sommerlad.

TRC paid $20,000 for a delegation to visit Shanghai earlier this year to explore economic development, which resulted in a non-binding MOU being signed with a Chinese renewable energy firm.

Gunnedah council, joined with its local chamber of commerce, have also attempted to tap into Chinese investment.

Now the wider region is seeking shore-up foreign investment with Namoi Unlimited, formerly the joint organisation of councils, eyeing off a trip overseas.

Its member councils, including Uralla, Walcha, Tamworth, Liverpool Plains, Gunnedah, Narrabri and Gwydir, are seeking to establish a regional relationship with the Agricultural Ministry of Ningbo, one of the largest freight ports in China.

“Our communities want the region to work together to grow jobs, address infrastructure, services and population in the region – and that’s what we are doing,” acting chair Cathy Redding said.