Sunshine Coast Council today announced the formation of a new taskforce and a digital skilling collaboration with Amazon Web Services (AWS) as part of Council's Economic Resurgence Plan, aimed at fast tracking the region's economic recovery.
The taskforce includes seven local business leaders and will be led by Economic Portfolio Councillors Terry Landsberg and Jason O'Pray.
The group will be charged with overseeing the delivery of council's third economic stimulus package and providing ongoing support to local businesses as they seek to recover from the impacts of novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Sunshine Coast Council Mayor Mark Jamieson said re-energising the economy, supporting shovel-ready projects and backing local businesses are the key priorities of the Economic Resurgence Plan.
"Importantly, our Resurgence Plan will continue to focus on transforming our economy in line with the objectives of our Regional Economic Development Strategy," Mayor Jamieson said.
"One of the key elements of our Plan is a new collaboration with AWS to offer digital training, available on-demand, to our community to enable continual education and build new skills in cloud computing, machine learning, and data analytics.
"This suite of training, combined with our region's global connectivity through the International Broadband Submarine Cable Network, makes the Sunshine Coast the perfect choice for remote workers to upskill themselves in the current climate, and for companies looking to on-shore their services and systems."
Iain Rouse, Country Director for Public Sector, Australia and New Zealand at AWS, said access to a pool of tech talent, the opportunity to facilitate work-life harmony for staff, and infrastructure that supports productivity, are critical factors in location-based investment decisions.
"The AWS Digital Training will enable us to build local talent by providing accessible technology skills development and contributing to job opportunities for the entire Sunshine Coast community," Mr Rouse said.
"When you have a population of more than 20 million connecting to the cloud, you need to have the qualified skilled individuals available to meet this fast evolving need.
"We are excited about the opportunity to work with the Sunshine Coast Council to develop a future generation of skilled professionals."
As part of the Economic Resurgence Plan and in keeping with its focus on supporting local businesses to keep operating, council's procurement policy has been revised to increase its emphasis on locally based suppliers, which will help to keep residents employed and money circulating through the region's economy.
"Each council procurement process is carefully assessed and we have always backed local businesses," Mayor Jamieson said.
"Council spent $213 million with local suppliers during the current financial year (to 1 May, 2020) which represented approximately 70 per cent of council's total procurement spend. This is up from $200 million at the same time last financial year.
"From 1 July, contracts valued up to $250,000 will generally go to local companies and contracts greater than $250,000 will favour local suppliers, by increasing the local assessment criteria weighting from 15 to 20 per cent.
"Every dollar that stays in our economy has a multiplier effect. Backing locals is a win for local businesses and a win for our residents who rely on these businesses for employment.
Mayor Jamieson said in addition, an Incentive Assistance Program would be introduced to support the private sector with shovel-ready and job-creating projects.
"The program will be active over the next 18 months to stimulate jobs in the building and construction industry and will complement State and Federal Government programs," he said.
"Council will be introducing business champions across the organisation to fast-track eligible proposals.
"Council will also continue to waive fees for footpath dining and trading and permit fees for businesses using public spaces until 31 October. These fees have been waived since 1 March."
Council will now work closely with the taskforce, local chambers and industry groups to finalise the Economic Resurgence Plan over the coming weeks and will have further announcements on new programs and initiatives that will be introduced once the Taskforce meets.
Visit https://www.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au/Business/COVID19-Support-for-Business/ for council's business support measures.