LET THE PROUD PEOPLE OF TOWNSVILLE BE THE PROMOTIONAL PROPRIETORS OF THE NORTH TO DRAW PEOPLE TO OUR REGION; THAT’S THE WORD FROM EVOCITIES CHAIRMAN AND ALBURY MAYOR KEVIN MACK, WHO IS KEEN TO HELP DISPEL DELUSIONS THAT LIFE UP HERE IS ANYTHING BUT LIVEABLE.
As chairman of Evocities, a joint force of seven regional councils working together to change perceptions about life in regional centres, this regional city mayor is passionate about building growth and investment not just in the regions of his home state, but all around the country.
Recently in North Queensland to deliver his first official Evocities visit, Cr Mack met with our local leaders and organisations including Townsville Enterprise, to share his experiences and draw some parallels between the Evocities group of councils and our own regional centre.
“North Queensland is a beautiful lifestyle opportunity for relocators from all over Australia, but the challenge is for towns and cities to embrace that opportunity and market it to other areas of the country,” said Cr Mack.
While the grass may not literally be greener on our side of the invisible Queensland border separating us from our southern counterparts, we certainly do enjoy a lifestyle unadulterated by congestion, high costs of living, long commutes and public transport woes.
Evocities urges regional residents and decision makers to be proactive in convincing potential big-city relocators to move to smaller towns and cities and enjoy the many perks of residing regionally. Cr Mack added that the people of Townsville could be great ambassadors for the city by way of some simple community engagement and presenting a single voice to all levels of government.
“During our visit it was apparent that there is inherent negativity amongst some residents, who when given a platform, focus on the distinct negatives of regional living rather than highlighting all the greater benefits and sharing their overall immeasurably positive experiences,” Cr Mack explained.
“Sometimes we take regional living for granted, it’s important to remind our people of how good we have it.”
“Changing that mindset is critical to success, particularly with the way we connect to outsiders and the perception gleaned over the world wide web. The Townsville region has a high concentration of defence personnel who travel extensively and they are potentially great ambassadors for regional branding.”
Since launching in 2010 with Albury, Armidale, Bathurst, Dubbo, Orange, Tamworth and Wagga Wagga regional councils combining their resources to educate capital city residents about the benefits of living, working and investing in a regional city, the Evocities program has tracked almost 4,000 households who have made the move to an ‘Evocity’ in the past eight years.
Cr Mack said it’s a great example of how change can take place from the bottom up by being proactive and harnessing the positives of a particular region.
“I can’t stress how instrumental this is in changing perceptions and attracting relocators, business and investment,” he stated.
“All levels of government are looking for solutions regarding their bulging capital cities and here we are waiting to become relevant. The time is nigh to stop waiting and become active, offering our lifestyle opportunities as an alternative to the ‘drudgery’ of city living and the lack of affordable housing there compared to regions.”
Cr Mack believes the future looks bright for Townsville’s growth saying “Townsville’s natural assets and healthy lifestyle alternatives augers well for future investment and relocation. The vibrant culture in your city and surrounds is also prevalent and needs to be harnessed and promoted. You have a myriad of lifestyle alternatives, regional city living, hamlets and beautiful townships nestled in the hills and surrounding rainforests. Invest in eco-tourism and eco-lifestyle opportunities as it is positive branding and messaging.