By SASWATI MUKHERJEE
GROWING local is the mantra for businesses to thrive and the Hills economy to grow sustainably, says Hills Shire Mayor, Dr Peter Gangemi.
Hills Shire Council has put together a draft economic growth plan and he encourages businesses of all sizes in the Hills to read – which is a vision of how to grow the economy and support local jobs growth in the Hills.
There are four key elements that have been identified including: healthcare, education, professional and advanced manufacturing. One of the ways in which the Council wants to support growth is to connect people living in the area to local jobs.
“We have a lot of business and residential growth happening here. We want to try and have the jobs here in the Hills that match the skills of our workforce,” said Mayor Gangemi.
And it is here that the upcoming WEXPO Hills event on October 11 will help fill in the gaps. “WEXPO is a great opportunity for people to connect, learn and grow – connect with other business, learn from the workshops and speakers and grow their businesses with the endless opportunities available at the event,” Mayor Gangemi said.
WEXPO facilitates face-to-face interaction, connection with exhibitors, option to attend a business chamber breakfast and jobs forum and in the opportunity unlock business through networking. Hills Shire Council is a partner of WEXPO Hills.
Mayor Gangemi and his team are committed to growing the local economy and creating jobs and supporting business.
The Hills currently has 200,000 residents and this is expected to grow to 290,000 residents by 2036. A look at the businesses in the Hills – 23,000 now is esxpected to grow by at least 20,000 businesses by 2041.
This environment translates to a huge opportunity for businesses; more so given the highly educated workforce in the area. A high 41% of the workforce in the Hills have a bachelor’s degree and above, that offers significant opportunities to companies that operate in the region.
Rising costs and inflation
Mayor Gangemi identifies rising costs and inflation as major obsticles for business. A survey undertaken every year by the Council, points at how businesses are adversely affected given the rising costs and inflation.
“We have to offer significant value to our businesses here in the Hills. And I think we already do. We have a large population of highly skilled workforce, so businesses that are here have unparalleled access to talent compared to other areas of Sydney,” Mayor Gangemi said.
Add to that - events like WEXPO, stakeholders like the Sydney Hills Business Chamber, BNI, Mentor to Mentor and there is great value and support for business events and organisations rom the Council.
Mayor Gangemi believes these relationships give Council an advantage to meet challenges that the wider business community across Sydney is facing.
Given the high cost of living, Council encourages rate payers undergoing economic hardship to contact them.
“We look at people’s circumstances on an individual basis and try to help them,” said Mayor Gangemi.
To assist businesses, there is an economic development team which meets with business, makes people aware of the many grants that are available, the services available statewide and the different resources available in the community including workshops to assist them.
The Council runs programs such as marketing makeovers during the year to assist businesses.
Growth in the Hills
The Hills Shire Council just released three precinct plans to open significant job growth through to 2041 and beyond. The first one looks at the Castle Hill Precinct, where the growth is tilted towards the hospitality sector (Eats Street and leisure-based entertainment).
The second one focusses on Rouse Hill, where the planned hospital will drive jobs in the health sector. Allied services around the hospital is also expected to boost the job growth.
At Norwest, it will be a mix of residential, business and commercial sector, concentrating on the two stations in Norwest Business Park. Then there are the industrial parks at Annagrove Road and Box Hill, which are also looking good to contribute to job opportunities.
So, the rising population and the additional employment going into these employment precincts make up for endless opportunities for business in the Hills district.
WEXPO Hills is being held at Castle Grand on October 11 from 7am with 42 exhibitors, six FREE workshops and a Business Chamber breakfast. Go to www.wexpo.com.au
Dr Peter Gangemi is the Patron of WEXPO Hills.