Investing in our city for decades to come

2022 was always going to be a unique year. You have to go back to 2010 when there was both a Federal and Victorian State election in the same year. Whilst it’s a fact that may be of interest to election enthusiasts, it is so much more than just two Saturdays at the polling booths. Elections are our opportunity to help shape the lives we lead and the communities we live in.

Through 2021, many had cast our minds to the 2022 ‘Year of Elections’ and how both a Federal and State Poll could help shape our future. They provide a focus for business and the community to advocate for project funding that can be transformative.

Ballarat Now and Into the Future, (BNIF), is a partnership brought together to leverage the election opportunity and support a series of projects that will have a positive and generational impact across our entire region. The BNIF collaboration makes a very clear ‘ask’ to government, now with a specific focus on the November State poll.

The BNIF partners are, Australian Catholic University, Ballarat Regional Tourism, Central Highlands Water, City of Ballarat, Commerce Ballarat, Federation University, Grampians Health, Sovereign Hill and Committee for Ballarat. The group has a shared vision, as many others do, for a sustainable, prosperous, inclusive and vibrant regional community. Whilst no one partner leads the coalition, all are committed to working in collaboration.

The process began in 2021 when there was agreement that the unique nature of two elections in one year, meant we had an opportunity to demonstrate to all sides of politics and at all levels of government, a clearly defined, targeted set of priorities, supported by robust evidence-based proposals.

An independently facilitated workshop was conducted with the aim of developing an agreed set of priority projects. Individual proponents ‘pitched’ their projects and the wider group of stakeholders assessed the value, readiness and transformative significance of each.

Project assessments included the overall regional benefit, the social, environmental and economic benefit, the projections for on-going jobs and the project’s alignment to our regional priorities.

At the end of an extensive consultation, which included the consideration of business case and feasibility studies, six projects were identified. These projects are those that our city’s leaders have been, and will continue to speak to government about.

The projects are:
• Purpose built Community Mental Health Facilities
• Expansion of Ballarat’s Major Events Precinct
• Completion of Sovereign Hill’s new Gold Pavilion plus entry and orientation building
• Next stages of Ballarat’s Link Road
• Development of Ballarat’s University Town
• Establishment of a Circular Economy Precinct.

Importantly, the projects are championed by our health, education, tourism, local government, business and infrastructure sectors and cover a broad range of strategic investment opportunities for our region.

In their own way, each project will enhance community health and wellbeing; attract new industries and jobs; grow our visitor economy; strengthen our reputation as a great place to study; provide further opportunity for sports, entertainment and cultural events and continue to cultivate the vibrancy of our city and region.

There will of course be other projects that are worthy of government investment and we look forward to any announcements that will meet the growing needs of our region.

What is significant about BNIF is these six projects alone will inject $372 million of investment into our regional economy, create over 1700 direct and indirect jobs and $315 million in economic activity during the construction. Each will be transformative and create a significant change in our city and region for generations to come.

As we count down the weeks to the State election, we look forward to the announcements from all sides of politics, that will help shape our growing and diverse community. The six identified projects form a shared and optimistic vision for our future. The BNIF process is a demonstration of what is possible when we work together

Michael Poulton
CEO, Committee for Ballarat
Published in The Courier, Sat Nov 5, 2022

For more detail about each of the projects head to:
Ballarat Now and Into the Future 2022