FUTURE OF HEALTH: An artist's impression of the private hospital planned for the corner of Arthur and Queens sts, Grafton.
FUTURE OF HEALTH: An artist's impression of the private hospital planned for the corner of Arthur and Queens sts, Grafton.

10 key projects to kickstart the Clarence

Grafton Jail

THE country's biggest jail under construction outside Grafton will have significant impacts on the economy and the community.

The 1700-bed facility has been touted as providing as many as 600 jobs.

The development will provide local jobs while at the same time boost the population of the LGA with those who move into the area to work at the site.

There will also be flow-on effects to the local economy, most notably the agriculture industry, with some key stakeholders already in talksto provide food for the prison.

At a time when organisations such as Essential Energy, Rural Fire Service and the ALS are shedding jobs in the region, the potential of the new prison cannot be underestimated.

The sheer number of prisoners would ensure upgrades to medical facilities were a must and the number of families moving to the area to be with their loved ones would also mean an increase in affordable housing would be needed.

Blueberries and macadamias

NEW large-scale agricultural operations in areas like Chatsworth, Palmers Island and Lawrence will no doubt boost the local economy and create more jobs.

One of Australia's largest macadamia farms - Boombera Park - is here in the Valley and the $30 million, 1400-hectare property off Pringles Way, Lawrence, is expected to produce $30-35 million of macadamia nuts a year and create 40 full-time positions.

Pacific Highway

THIS will have long lasting affects on the Clarence, some of which will be harder to predict than others. There is no doubt the Clarence will grow and lower river areas like Yamba, Iluka and Maclean could receive an influx of tourists.

It also means the Clarence becomes a destination easier to commute to and from, creating opportunities the region has never had.

Country Universities Centre

THE opening of the Clarence Valley Country Universities Centre is a coup for the community and offers current and prospective students access to top class facilities and, importantly, access to student support.

The strength in the centre is its flexibility. Being aligned with three universities but still able to act as a private entity means there is scope for collaboration with local industry, businesses and community groups that may not have been as easy had a university moved in.

Grafton bridge

TO OUTSIDERS, the idea that having a second bridge would connect Grafton and South Grafton in ways not seen before might seem an exaggeration. But soon hassle and travel time will be reduced significantly.

Decreased congestion will mean tradies and those businesses in transport and logistics will suddenly be able to zip across the river without having a significant chunk of their day wasted.

Riverside redevelopments

POSSIBLY the most important development of civic space in a generation, the Grafton riverside precinct - if executed well - could finally create a space worthy of the magnificent river upon which the town is situated.

Add to that the continued development of the Maclean riverside precinct and the plans to redevelop Ulmarra and the community will have much to be proud of. Developments such as these enhance the message to prospective residents of the Clarence that the area is a great place to live and work.

Jaca Festival growth

THE Jacaranda Festival has undergone some big changes this year with a shift in focus to take the flower festival to the world.

Alongside Clarence Valley Council, the festival committee wants to promote the town's jacarandas and cater for a growing tourist market while maintaining the 85-year-old tradition of which Grafton is so fond.

Both council and the festival proved their growth with nominations in the Destination North Coast Regional Tourism Awards. The Jacaranda Festival took out bronze in its category.

Co-working space

WITH Blanc Space opening in Yamba, it is only a matter of time before more co-working spaces pop up in the Valley.

Like the CUC, this modern innovation allows flexibility and connectivity, disrupting a model that has served business well for 100 years.

New spaces offer individuals a chance to network and engage with other professionals and offers businesses the opportunity to enable staff to work wherever they want. In a business world constantly rationalising, co-working spaces offer a chance to ditch the building and keep the staff.

Hospital upgrade

THE $263 million upgrade to the Grafton Base Hospital could not come soon enough and there is potential for that amount to grow bigger once the full impact of the jail becomes clearer.

The commitment by the government to start the project before the next election should ensure the Clarence would have a world class facility before too long, meaning there will be an influx of new medical professionals to the region.

Private hospital

STILL in the very early planning stages, the creation of a private hospital could mean even more professionals would be drawn to the region to work.

There is strong support for a private facility from many in the health professions and would reduce the need for locals to travel to Lismore or Coffs Harbour for several treatments.