Despite the trying times of drought, and the downturn in the agricultural and retail sector across the state, the Parkes economy has been given some reprieve thanks to government and private sector investment.
Currently Parkes is experiencing unprecedented investment by the three levels of government - State, Federal and Local who are injecting millions of dollars' into infrastructure projects including Inland Rail, the proposed Parkes Special Activation Precinct, the Newell Highway Bypass, and local projects such as the Parkes Main Street Revitalisation, Cooke Park Multipurpose Centre, Parkes Library upgrade and Central West Family Daycare expansion.
This investment by government has given the private sector the confidence to invest in Parkes with companies like Pacific National investing in a $35 million Parkes Terminal Development and the recent approval of a $23 million advanced food manufacturing facility.
In addition to investment in the Parkes National Logistics Hub, over the next twelve months we will see the construction of a new solar farm, $200 million expansion of Northparkes Mines and progression of Clean TeQ's $2 billion Sunrise Mine project.
Parkes Shire Council's General Manager Kent Boyd PSM said a total of 165 development consents were issued by Council in the 2018-19 year at a value of $66 million, an increase of 176% based on the previous year.
"This spike in activity is a result of more industrial and commercial developments which help provide diversity in the local economy and an opportunity for businesses to leverage alternative sources of income," he said.
"Parkes Shire Council has been working toward Inland Rail for over 20 years, ensuring Parkes is investment ready.
"We [Council] put aside land for the National Logistics Hub to ensure the community was in a position to capitalise on the strategic location of the east-west north-south link.
"We have made sure we have appropriately-zoned land ready for investment and the confidence that this has put into the economy has seen investors knocking on the door.
"The level of interest we have received over the past 18 months has reaffirmed our commitment to careful planning for Parkes' economic future, including avoiding ad-hoc development around the Parkes Hub which may limit the potential of this nationally-significant intermodal facility.
"Council has proactively invested in essential infrastructure such as new water and sewage treatment plants, airports, roads and public amenity to support the future population growth as a result of these major developments.
"We are thrilled to be working with NSW Government who share our vision to take the Parkes National Logistics Hub to the next stage.
In July 2018, the Deputy Premier announced that Parkes would become the State's first Special Activation Precinct to accelerate business development with streamlined approval processes and enabling infrastructure.
The investigation and planning for the Parkes Special Activation Precinct is well under way.
The State Government is currently doing a detailed investigation of the area and are hoping to release their findings and recommendations soon.
The Special Activation Precinct will be designed to take advantage of the unique economic opportunities of Parkes' strategic location at the epicentre of the national freight and logistics network.
Efficient transport with inland port capabilities will be the catalyst for export orientated business to add value to the region's produce, and we want the regions producers to receive some of the uplift from that value-adding.
The region has some of the best produce in the world and it would be refreshing to see some of the uplifted value stay in the region rather than be exported out in bulk.
"It has been a long-term vision of the Parkes Shire Community to develop Parkes as a National Logistics Hub and Inland Port, and now the Special Activation Precinct will provide a step- change towards this vision," Kent said.
"This is a "moonshot" for the region and we intent to make the most of it!"
For more information about the Parkes National Logistics Hub visit www.parkeshub.com.au