President plots course for growth

Zoe KeenanSouth Western Times
Rob Skipsey is the new Bunbury Geographe Chamber of Commerce and Industry president.
Camera IconRob Skipsey is the new Bunbury Geographe Chamber of Commerce and Industry president. Credit: Zoe Keenan

Developing agricultural industries, repurposing Collie and working collaboratively across the South West are keys to economic growth and sustainability.

That is the opinion of the newly-appointed Bunbury Geographe Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Rob Skipsey.

The South African-born president has been in the South West for five years and has worked and lived in five countries throughout his life.

With 20 years experience working for various chambers throughout the world, Mr Skipsey said he hoped his diverse career background and knowledge would help him move the region into a new phase of economic growth.

He said the biggest challenge going forward was to get every business representative body, together with the six shires in the region, and other government bodies on the same page.

He said this would be the key to identifying areas of development, attracting investment and creating sustainable economic growth in the South West region.

“The growth potential areas are our agricultural zone, it’s the greatest potential we have,” he said.

“We sit on such a rich area where we have potential across so many different agriculture areas such as dairy, meat processing, grains and more. We should be in the forefront of building that capacity.

“There’s potential to bring all areas of agriculture together to make a more connected and cohesive approach to marketing the agriculture potential of the South West.”

He said another key area was the development of the next generation of port infrastructure and connecting transport infrastructure throughout the region.

In terms of the broader South West region he said struggling areas like Collie needed to find a new niche market.

“There’s potential of going into other forms of energy, looking at what is the future downstream processing of lithium.

“Also energising those links to what we already have in different shires. Each shire has potential areas of development, we need to make sure we’re not competing against each shire and work collectively.”

While the retail industry continues to struggle, Mr Skipsey said new niche retail offerings in Bunbury’s CBD would continue to make it attractive.

“The key for us in Bunbury is destination marketing. We have to find a place maker, a key destination holder in Bunbury.

“We’ve got the Dolphin Discovery Centre and back beach development but what is it in the city that is a place maker.”

He said there was enormous potential throughout the South West to create jobs, sustainability and the title as the second biggest region outside the Perth metropolitan area.

“A lot of people only see the negative aspects and part of the challenge for us it to talk about opportunities that exist and create an environment that invites people in.”

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails