Gunnedah ought to aim to grow to a population of 20,000 by 2040 on the back of an economic boom .
That's according to Mayor Jamie Chaffey, who said a a new economic plan for the town would add a third string to the bow of the town's economy, creating thousands of jobs.
The council last week released a Draft Gunnedah Shire Economic Development Strategy 2022-26.
If adopted, the regional roadmap would direct council to support the establishment of a processing precinct and abattoir, plan to construct a Gunnedah intermodal freight terminal and establish a Country Universities Centre in the town.
Cr Chaffey said the town had long relied on the two pillars of mining and agriculture and it was time to add a third in agricultural processing.
It could mean a major population boost, he said.
"If we can deliver on these actions, which are our strengths... we would see something like a population growth by 2040 to 20,000 people," he said.
"That's not an endorsed position of council but it's my personal aim."
Gunnedah's population was judged to be just below 12,700 at the last census in 2016. The 2021 census has yet to be completed, but Cr Chaffey said the population was likely already thousands higher than that number. Gunedah would require less than a growth rate of 2 per cent to hit 20,000 by 2040, he said.
The draft strategy would also commit the council to work on a housing strategy to accomodate new population growth, to investigate a campaign to attract skilled workers and to complete the saleyards upgrade.
Planning documents included with the strategy show that agriculture is by far the biggest employer in Gunnedah, representing over 1000 of the region's 5,490 jobs. The top 5 include healthcare and social assistance, retail, education and training and accommodation and food services. Mining is Gunnedah's 12th biggest employer.
Agriculture is also the region's biggest exporter and represents its biggest sector in terms of turnover.
The town's biggest challenge was identified to be a shortage of healthcare workers, particularly GPs. The plan considered development Designated Area Migration Agreement for Gunnedah as a way to use immigrant healthcare staff to resolve the shortfall.
Assuming the council endorses the 5-year plan, it will likely do so before local government elections at the end of the year.
Cr Chaffey said that the strategy is a "visionary work" with 41 clear actions that will direct future councils on the region's future.
"It puts that pathway for success, endorsed by the community. Now we can knuckle down and try and achieve what we're saying in that document. It's also a Very clear direction for the incoming council... a running jump for the new body, whatever it looks like," he said.
Submissions on the strategy close at 5pm on Monday September 27.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:
- Bookmark northerndailyleader.com.au
- Make sure you are signed up for our breaking and regular headlines newsletters
- Follow us on Twitter
- Follow us on Instagram
- Follow us on Google News