Confidence surges as investment stays strong

By REN LANZONrlanzon@gladstoneobserver.dyndns.org

A SURGE of confidence is driving investment growth in the region, but the cause of the confidence remains a little unclear.

However, the one single factor most cited by those most closely associated with development believed it was the fact that we did not have a "bust'' after the Comalco refinery "boom''.

Investors, officials and financial institutions have made "best guesses'' as to what was causing the surge. At the same time, all agree the growth is most welcome.

Calliope Shire Council's director of planning Russell Schuler said employment opportunities in the region "would be drawing workers and therefore demand for housing''.

"The new mines and expansion of existing mining operations to the west may also be stimulating the demand for housing,'' he said.

He added the "seachange phenomena'' could be a contributing factor, especially among retirees, although this had been occurring for some years.

Gladstone Area Promotions and Development Ltd's general manager Danial Rochford said GAPDL's promotion of the region over the past 12 months certainly had played a major part.

"To me this surge is no surprise at all,'' he said.

"We speak to at least one developer a day about the advantages of investing in the Gladstone region ? I think our effort is beginning to mature.''

He said other factors were a recognition of the region's long-term commitment to growth, infrastructure expansions, such as those of Central Queensland Ports Authority, "and our affluence is growing too''.

"A lot of investors were waiting to see what would happen post-Comalco.

"They were expecting a bust, but when that did not happen they realised Gladstone was a good long-term investment opportunity.''

Independent Home Loans principal John Whitten said "there is nothing I could put my finger on'' as to why developers had picked the past few weeks to invest in Gladstone.

"I don't think anyone can say it is one thing or another that's putting this confidence in the town,'' he said.

"But I think that, as there was no 'bust' after the Comalco Alumina Refinery was completed, people got over their fear of the boom and bust cycle they had become used to.''

Developer and real estate principal Edgar Allen also had wondered at the sudden interest by investors in Gladstone.

"But there has been a build-up of work opportunity in the area, with the port authority and Orica as examples,'' he said.



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