Wingecarribee Shire Council in partnership with Destination Sydney Surrounds South is set to develop an Agribusiness and Equine Strategy to showcase the Shire’s potential to agritourism and equine operators.
The plan for a Southern Highlands Agribusiness and Equine Strategic Plan was developed by one of the strategic working groups created as part of the Southern Highlands Key Stakeholder Group.
Council’s General Manager Ann Prendergast said the group is comprised of 14 key local and regional industry and government organisations.
“One of the key roles of the Southern Highlands Key Stakeholder Group is to identify untapped growth industries that would be a fit for our Shire and in turn provide a shot in the arm to our local economy,” she said.
“The idea behind an Agribusiness and Equine Strategy is to investigate what opportunities and benefits our Shire could offer these two important industries to further establish themselves in the Highlands.”
Ms Prendergast said the Shire was perfectly placed to host and support both industries.
“Our climate, geography and existing established industries and amenities lend themselves to the agritourism and equine markets,” she said. “For these reasons it’s firmly believed that real opportunities exist to strengthen local employment within the Shire and create jobs particularly for our younger residents.”
Ms Prendergast also welcomed the support of the NSW State Government.
“Council is extremely grateful to the NSW State Government for supporting this project which will instill resilience into the local economy by growing and developing new industries to withstand disasters such as the recent drought, bushfires and now COVID-19.”
Central to the creation of the strategy will be the appointment of an Agribusiness and Equine Industry Development Coordinator.
Chair of the Southern Highlands Key Stakeholder Group and Director of Destination Sydney Surrounds South Hugh Clarke said the role would be crucial to identifying future opportunities.
“We want to employ someone who can audit our Shire’s existing provisions, engage with key stakeholders from both industries and identify key issues and opportunities for all parties,” he said.
The position will be jointly funded by Council through monies secured as part of the recently announced joint NSW Government Bushfire Community Resilience and Economic Recovery Fund and Destination Sydney Surrounds South.
Arthur Inglis, Deputy Chairman of William Inglis & Son Ltd and leading equine bloodstock auctioneer said the creation of an Agribusiness and Equine Strategy would be a boon for the Shire.
“This is an excellent initiative with enormous potential to transform the Highlands, an area already ideally suited to agritourism and a wide array of equine pursuits.”