Coast club's $50m plans for six-storey mega tourism hub
KEPPEL Bay Sailing Club in Yeppoon has taken a giant leap in what could well be a game changer for the Capricorn Coast and the greater region with plans to develop a $50 million sporting, tourism and events hub.
The proposed Keppel Bay Convention and Sporting Hub would include a six-storey building, 1000-seat convention centre, accommodation, retail, skywalk link as well as support facilities and services.
Keppel Bay Sailing Club commodore David Ware said the project would transform the tourism offer in Yeppoon and enable a major growth in sports tourism through KBSC's sailing operations while also supporting other local sports organisations.
"The Capricorn Coast would attract large corporate events, providing considerable diversification to the local economy and tourism sector," Mr Ware said.
Keppel Bay Sailing Club is now seeking $25 million in support and funding from the Australian Government through its Regional Growth Fund.
The fund provides grants of $10 million or more for major transformational projects, which support long-term economic growth and create jobs in regions.
The club has submitted an initial application and hopes in the coming weeks to be invited to submit to the second stage of the application process.
Mr Ware said if successful, the club plans to leverage a potential grant with further investment from the private sector, not-for-profit organisations and other levels of government to make this exciting vision a reality.
"The club has worked with architects Brand and Slater, Livingstone Shire Council, Regional Development Australia Fitzroy & Central West and Capricorn Enterprise," he said.
"An independent economic impact assessment was also developed which showed the proposed Keppel Bay Convention and Sporting Hub would create significant employment opportunities and a real boost to the local economy."
The economic impact assessment estimated the project would create 71 direct full-time-equivalent jobs and 113 indirect jobs during construction.
Once operational, the sporting hub would create 29 direct and 12 indirect new full-time-equivalent jobs.
The project would generate annually a net increase of 24,500 visitor nights, equating to a boost of $8.2 million in the local economy annually.
KBSC manager Julie Strudwick said the club currently employed more than 125 staff and approximately 75 new employees would be recruited once the project was complete.
"The project would increase local long-term and secure job opportunities, encouraging residents to stay locally, and in particular, youth who will benefit from our award-winning training program," she said.
Capricorn Enterprise CEO Mary Carroll said the plan was a game changer for both the Capricorn Coast and for the greater region.
"The construction of a purpose-built convention centre with the capacity to hold up to 1000 people has been identified as one of our regional priority projects since Capricorn Enterprise was formed in 2010," she said.
"The visitor economy to our region is reliant upon both holiday and business travellers.
"In order for us to attract more business travellers to the Capricorn Coast who then become holiday travellers, we need a business convention centre on the coast.
"The economic uplift of the $53 million town centre and foreshore revitalisation is a prime example of where public-sector investment attracts private sector investment."
Livingstone Mayor Bill Ludwig said this was the most exciting announcement since the foreshore development was first proposed.
"It is a level of private sector investment we need to both complement the foreshore development but also for the Capricorn Coast to realise its full potential as a tourism and conference centre destination for the region," he said.
"The Sailing Club board of directors and management team should be commended on their vision and continuing investment in both the future of the club, our shire and this region.
"I'm certainly excited the project also has the support of the Federal Member Michelle Landry and while we realise there is stiff competition nationally in this funding pool, we hope they will look favourably on this project for the Capricorn Coast as the growth centre for our region.
"Council wholeheartedly supports the progression of this project."
Federal Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry said she was excited to see the plans the sailing club has for the foreshore.
"Yeppoon's foreshore has developed so much over the last few years to be a jewel of the Capricorn Coast. A project like this promises to help cement the region as a top-notch tourism hot spot," she said.
"I'm excited to see the Sailing Club have applied for funding under the Federal Government's Regional Growth Fund and I am sure their application will be well received.
"The Regional Growth Fund is an excellent opportunity for regional Australian communities to develop their economies and create jobs. A huge amount of applications have been made to the Fund and I wish the Keppel Bay Sailing Club's application all the luck in the world."
The proposed Keppel Bay Convention and Sporting Hub has also received support from State MP Brittany Lauga.
Regional Development Australia Fitzroy & Central West chair Grant Cassidy commended the club for its vision, giving the RDA committee's support to the application and project.