Business leaders sought for Economic Strategic Review Committee


Howard Salkow

Senior Journalist

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Council is seeking local business owners to take part in the Economic Strategic Review Committee. Image: Newsport.

Douglas Shire Council is moving ahead with its strategy to recruit local business leaders to form its Economic Strategic Review Committee.

The objective of the committee is to feature broad input from a cross-section of the community and assist Council review its current Economic Development Strategy.

And Douglas Shire Mayor Julia Leu, who will chair the committee, has sent an invitation to local business owners and operators to consider joining.

At the most recent Think Tank held in Mossman, Council CEO Mark Stoermer revealed that the committee would comprise 12 people.

As chair, Mayor Leu will be joined by Chamber president Liz Ross; TPDD Chief Executive Officer Tara Bennett and two Council Officers. The remaining seven spots will be filled by businesses representing different sectors across the community.

And at the same Think Tank, a number of attendees expressed the view that it would be inappropriate for the Mayor to chair the committee.

Dr Alex Bernhardi, who initiated the Think Tank and acted as facilitator, said she saw a weakness in the current concept in the composition and selection process of the task force members.

“This is reinforced with the Mayor also being a board member of TPDD (to my knowledge) as well as being superior to the two Council Officers.

“I see it as a crucial prerequisite for a successful outcome that the chair is taken by an independent professional economic development specialist who then helps to select all other members – which may or may not include the Mayor,” she said.

In her letter to the business owners, Mayor Leu said she was calling on them to share their ideas to benefit the economy.

“As local business owners who live and breathe Douglas Shire, you probably have hundreds of ideas to not only grow your own business, but help us create a more sustainable, vibrant and thriving economy.

“Council wants you to tell us these ideas and help us make this happen. We want local business leaders to form our Economic Strategic Review Committee, which will feature broad input from a cross-section of our community and help us review our current Economic Development Strategy.

“We are seeking seven local business leaders, representing a mix of business types and sizes, who can share their knowledge and ideas to help us with this essential task. We need strong representation from the business community and I would like to invite you to submit a brief expression of interest to become a member of the committee,” she said.

To develop the Economic Development Strategy and actions, Mayor Leu said there will be six working sessions over a two-month period. 

The proposed times are consecutive Wednesday mornings from 7:00am to 9:30am on the following dates: 22 January 2020; 29 January 2020; 5 February 2020; 12 February 2020; 19 February 2020; and 26 February 2020.

For more information, go to: and to have your say on the future of the Economic Development Strategy, you can complete a survey at:

The closing date for applications is Friday, 29 November at 5pm.

In 2017, meanwhile, Council released its Economic Development Strategy outlining its vision and work plan until 2021.

The strategy is based on extensive consultation with community, best practice research and sounds principles relating to sustainability.

The five key priority focus areas that will be a targeted approach to address key challenges and create tangible benefits are:

• Creating a study, training and entrepreneur incubator centre;
• Further developing an allied health hub and health tourism;
• Increasing the resilience of the sugar industry;
• Developing Douglas Shire Council as Australia’s leader in sustainable development
• Attracting and facilitating investment.

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