WATCH: Rocky council's Smart Hub plugs into digital future
THE city counts technology entrepreneurs Bevan Slattery and Steve Baxter among its greatest exports, but Rockhampton Regional Council hopes they won't be the last.
Council today agreed to fund a "launch pad" for start-ups in the CBD, aimed at boosting business, growing employment and stimulating the economy.
The Smart Hub is designed to be a place for collaboration and was one of the first elements of council's Smart Regional Centre strategy adopted last year.
In the ordinary meeting, councillors were presented with a report with suggested the hub be delivered and operated by council in the short to medium term.
However, council are required to underwrite the initiative "quite substantially".
The report outlined a cost to council in the first year of $867,740, including a $508,000 one-off capital set-up cost for the hub's fit-out, furnishings and technology.
The report estimates a first year revenue of $118,500.
It's estimated the hub will cost $2.286 million to deliver and operate over five years, with the potential to recover $1.466 million through fees and services.
Modelling also suggests the hub could have an ongoing impact in the range of 174 jobs and a $17.55 million increase in Gross Regional Product.
It was suggested the hub be established in a Quay St building, with space for businesses to collaborate, tele-working, meetings and minor video productions.
An open plan arrangement is set to allow the area to be used for larger forums.
The 2016-17 council budget has a proposed allocation of $250,000, with the remainder of the $508,000 co-funded under the State Government's Building Our Regions fund.
The report proposed the creation of two new positions to oversee the hub, but Rockhampton mayor Margaret Strelow said council would only look to provide a business manager this financial year.
Cr Strelow said while council could not reveal the businesses involved yet, there had been "strong interest" in the hub.
She said it was crucial council support fledgling businesses in the "knowledge economy".
But she said interested businesses would face strict criteria, including a need to expand and not simply have council pay the electricity bills.
"It's about businesses that are hungry to grow," Cr Strelow said.
Cr Strelow said council needed to make the first step in setting up the hub, but could look to partner with a private entity after the first few years.