THE Namoi region is set to take the next step in its evolution as an agricultural powerhouse after it was named a Regional Job Precinct (RJP) by the NSW government.
Member for Tamworth Kevin Anderson made the announcement on Wednesday morning, and was also flanked by mayors from the Gunnedah, Tamworth Regional, Liverpool Plains and Walcha councils.
The Uralla and Gwydir councils are also included in the Namoi group.
Chair of Future Food Systems CRC, Fiona Simson, was also there and all involved were keen to speak about how the program will increase investment in the area.
The program will have a lifespan of one year and has a value of about $1 million to be shared between the participating councils.
Gunnedah mayor and Namoi Joint Organisation chairperson Jamie Chaffey said the agriculture sector would be one the main focuses, but there were a range of investment opportunities around the region.
"They are at the top of the tree - we're talking about beef, lamb and poultry - but nothing will be off the table," he said.
Specialist planners will be assigned to the area to help local councils identify gaps in their planning processes and opportunities for growth.
As well as attracting investors, Mr Anderson revealed becoming an RJP would strip away some of the red tape for certain projects.
"What's the biggest impediment to growth when it comes to business, when it comes to agriculture? It's planning," he said.
"So what we do need to do is break down those barriers, crash through those walls and let's make the planning a lot more simple, let's make the planning more user-friendly."
He said instead of planning documents going through a dozen sets of hands and ending up in a high-rise in Sydney, the process will remain local and make things quicker and easier.
Mr Chaffey believes the program will also help address conflicts over land usage, and make it easier to protect prime agricultural land.
Investment in infrastructure over the past couple of years has been the enabler for this program, according to Mr Anderson, who claims the region is now ready to cope with a larger transport network should it be required.
The combination of industry with state and local government is something that excites Ms Simson, who praised the model and said it could deliver great outcomes.
"This initiative is a gold standard for collaboration across government, industry and research and a great example of the innovative thinking needed across Australia to boost regional industry," she stated.
The Namoi Region is the fourth Regional Job Precinct that has been announced, after Albury, Richmond Valley and South Jerrabomberra.
It is an extension of the Special Activation Precincts program and is driven by the $4.2 billion Snowy Hydro Legacy Fund.
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