$71m plan closer

THE aviation industry is on the verge of injecting $71 million and 1400 jobs into the region.

Fraser Coast Regional Council has had its proposal for a $10 million upgrade to the Hervey Bay Airport selected by Regional Development Australia Wide Bay Burnett to move to full application stage.

If the airport development proposal is successful in February, it will draw down $5 million for the project from a total pool of $200 million in Commonwealth funding for regional Australia and match this amount dollar for dollar from its own coffers.

Each dollar invested developing the airport precinct will bring a seven-fold reinvestment in the region, according to business case analysis commissioned by the council.

Use of such economic multipliers can be murky science but the time frame is firmer with council confirming it will move quickly if it wins the funds.

Development applications are already being formulated.

"Construction and development (of the precinct) could be completed within 12 months if we are successful," council chief executive officer Lisa Desmond said.

She said the council was planning to call for expressions of interest from the aviation industry within two months.

The FCRC has a 12ha site adjacent to the existing Hervey Bay airport which is divided into lots of different sizes.

Aircraft development and manufacturing concerns are expected to be interested in larger freehold parcels of land with airport access.

Lots sitting directly behind these six to 10 main parcels would be a base for an aviation support industry.

Ms Desmond said the $10 million would be spent on establishing utilities, roads, a taxiway capable of supporting jet aircraft and a hard stand.

RDA WBB chief Paul Massingham said two other projects had also been selected to go forward to full application: Cooinda Aged Care Facility upgrades and the first stage of a 100-unit retirement village project at Childers.

"The quality of the projects received in our region was very high, making it a difficult choice," he said.

"The projects chosen took into account the priorities of our regional roadmap and have the capacity to address the needs of the region.

"They also have a strong level of community support and will have a positive long-term impact on our region and neighbouring regions and are ready to proceed."

The Department of Regional Australia will assess all applications to ensure compliance with the guidelines.

Eligible applications will then be assessed by an independent advisory panel and funded projects will then be announced.

The Regional Development Australia Fund is worth almost $1 billion over five years.



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