Some of the people fighting to keep the Ballina marina plans alive.
Some of the people fighting to keep the Ballina marina plans alive. The Northern Star

Ill wind blows for Ballina marina

THE plan for a marina in Ballina, and the jobs it could create, may be sailing into an ill wind if Ballina Shire Council doesn't finance a full-time position in its economic development unit in the upcoming financial year.

That's the fear of the Ballina Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which is lobbying the council to increase its proposed funding for the unit by $50,000, which chamber secretary Bryan Marriott said would be an investment in the economic growth of the shire.

The EDU was set up three years ago by a partnership with the chamber, council and the NSW Department of State and Regional Development. The chamber chipped in $75,000 over three years.

The council's draft plan of management for the 2008-09 year budgets $48,000 to the unit.

Mr Marriott said the EDU, and its full-time economic development officer, had been a driving force behind the marina, which was endorsed by council in the Richmond River foreshore master plan, and is now with the NSW Department of Lands for assessment.

He said the marina would lead to jobs in the manufacturing sector.

"And that's what we want to get off the ground," he said." This shire is based on building and tourism, but that's very brittle. We need real job-creation industries."

Mr Marriott said the marina would bring with it a whole range of industries, and the EDU, working in a facilitation role within council, would make it easier for those industries to set up shop.

Ballina mayor Cr Phillip Silver said that, just like a Federal Budget, there were always going to be competing priorities for a limited amount of council funds.

He fired a broadside at the chamber's argument, saying major projects like the marina were not going to be brought about at the level of the EDU.

"That will come about as a proactive council decision," he said.

Meanwhile, Ballina councillors have been invited to attend tomorrow's chamber breakfast meeting where Lois Kelly, economic development co-ordinator at the Lismore Economic Development Unit, will speak about that unit's major projects and what it gives to the community.

Phone 6681 5049 for details of that meeting.

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