Professor John Cole says Gladstone needs to increase vital local services.
Professor John Cole says Gladstone needs to increase vital local services.

Forget boom and bust, start becoming resilient

GLADSTONE needs to forget about being a "boom or bust" town and get on with becoming a resilient region, according to a leading strategic thinker.

Professor John Cole, the University of Southern Queensland's Institute for Regions' executive director, said the Gladstone region should be looking at improving the services sector - particularly in education - irrespective of what was happening in industry.

He told a gathering of business leaders at the Gladstone Area Promotion and Development Ltd Shaping our Regions Future Leaders conference on Thursday that the community should be demanding and offering more.

Prof Cole said the town shouldn't be thinking about where the next big project was coming from.

"Gladstone has had a silver bullet mentality, but it's not the (local) people; it comes from Canberra," he said.

"People tend to confuse the national economy with the export economy, and Gladstone is so tied to export.

"In the next 15 to 20 years it needs to become robust in the services it offers."

He said the next wave of business would focus around agribusiness, international education, tourism and wealth management, according to Deloitte.

"There are several areas where you could be in more," he said.

He said the town had a wealth of knowledge being developed that should be commercialised.

"The services that we have put in place to develop industry and which will maintain it and engineer it and innovate it, going forward, Gladstone needs its fair share of," he said, indicating that most of the LNG industry's education was in Houston.

"You should as a community demand more universities. You need to demand more and offer more."

Cr Maxine Brushe, who was in the audience, said Gladstone was a strong and dynamic region, "and we're wanting to be masters of our own destiny".

But she questioned the ability to move forward with other levels of government's having their own plans.

"You need two visions then," Prof Cole said. "They won't do the things you can do. They will work on industry.

"Services that look like SME (small to medium enterprises), TAFEs, universities, hospitals - I'd be suggesting you spend more time thinking about developing those areas."

BIGGEST EMPLOYERS:

Regional - local government 41%

Rural and remote: Local Government, agribusiness, mining



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