OPINION: The key to driving Rocky’s regional growth
Do you know the story of David and Goliath? A biblical tale where a smaller David, against all odds, kills the much bigger Goliath with his slingshot and a well-aimed stone. What was the stone he used though – after all the choice of which was vital to the outcome? Too small and it would have possibly just glanced off Goliath’s forehead, leaving just a bruise. Too weighty it may not have reached the vulnerable forehead. Not the right shape and it may not have knocked Goliath out. When you are the small guy you need to have everything right and possibly some luck, divine intervention or COVID-19 conditions when going against a much bigger opponent, be it in sport (unless you’re the Gold Coast Titans), commerce or attracting people to relocate to your region to grow your local economy.
What stones are Mackay slinging?
In this weekend’s Sunday Mail there was a story about an exodus to the regions that could leave some suburbs in Brisbane as ghost towns. (And people think that I sometimes exaggerate!) The regional suburbs listed as the top 3 beneficiaries of this exodus, on a percentage increase basis, are in Mackay. Rockhampton was listed at number 10. Three of the top 10, this result doesn’t just happen overnight, it is usually a result of effectively involving its community and presenting a consistent message focused on just a handful of relevant salient points, ‘David’s stones’ you could say, effectively slung at Brisbane suburbs which as a result have gained enough resident’s respect for Mackay, to the point of nominating it as within 3 years being their likely next home town.
Rockhampton Regional Council is currently running a promotion for the region, in a large part of regional Queensland and in Brisbane encouraging people to Stop, See, Stay. A great pictorial television commercial featuring many things to do in Rockhampton, but are these the best stones to be slinging now, when COVID-19 has given some regional centres a tactical advantage in the battle against capital cities to attract people to stay?
COVID-19, Advantage point for (some) regional centres
COVID-19 resulted in more people WFH (working from home) and a by-product of this is that the commute time taken to get to and from work has now become family time. Time that workers are reluctant to give up as the return to the workplace becomes more likely. Plus, more employers are now also seeing the benefits of WFH and in conjunction with their employees have created an environment where some of them can now work effectively from anywhere. Add the recession COVID-19 has caused and things like housing affordability and job opportunities suddenly become more important than the cosmopolitan lifestyle capital cities supposedly offer. Are, an airport with 30-minute flights to Brisbane, excellent educational facilities including a University, industry diversity, price of houses, proximity to the Bowen Basin and Capricorn Coast the stones, all missing in the current TV commercial, we should now be slinging at Brisbane?
A review of the video Mackay Regional Council features on its ‘Moving to Mackay’ web page (plus some other related video’s) includes these (comparable) ‘stones’ and also something else that I believe is just as important: pride. Since 2015, Mackay Council has been actively fostering local pride (receiving state wide recognition and awards), a necessary platform to building an effective campaign to sell their region. After all the residents are the best salespeople.
Stage 2: Include Livingstone
Hopefully stage 2 of Rockhampton’s ‘Stop, See, Stay,’ campaign includes more of the right ‘stones’ to improve our ranking with Brisbane resident’s intention to stay. A cooperative effort with Livingstone Council in a campaign that included BVOD to hit the forehead of the ‘to be’ ghost town suburbs of Brisbane would appear logical, if wanting a knockout blow and not just a bruise. And on a local level a campaign that fosters local pride in the whole region (Rockhampton and Livingstone) which also goes to addressing the them and us division that has continued for too long since de-amalgamation, some 6 and half years ago, would be something positive to see.