59 ideas for Kimba

CONVERSATION: Community members at the final session of the week.
CONVERSATION: Community members at the final session of the week.

The Kimba community spent three days in deep discussion about the future of the town last week, as part of the development process for the Kimba Community and Economic Development Strategy.

With funding from the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility Community Benefit Fund, the Kimba District Council engaged community development consultant Peter Kenyon from the Bank of I.D.E.A.S. to visit the town and create a strategy for growing the community and addressing challenges.

The three-day event was Mr Kenyon's second visit.

He facilitated a variety of discussions including public conversations on issues including retaining youth and attracting a doctor and conversations with sporting and community groups.

At the end of the three days, Mr Kenyon left with 59 potential ideas for strengthening the community.

Ideas included funding an 'enterprise faciliator' to assist new businesses in the town, a person to work on finding and applying for community grants, greater consultation with the town's youth and a coworking space on the main street.

Mr Kenyon said the town was "incredibly asset rich," with a variety of landmarks including "the best silo art piece in the country," an optimal position for tourism, a strong agricultural industry and a community full of "passionate" people.

"There are some real opportunities there, also some real challenges," he said.

With population decline a concern and many members of the community heavily involved in several committees to keep everything running, he said it was important to engage more people and work on maintaining a connection with the town's youth as they move away for their education.

He said there was a "strong business base" with a culture of entrepreneurship that could be further encouraged.

An idea raised in several sessions was the need to capitalise on the "Halfway Across Australia" branding of the town.

Mr Kenyon said a major challenge was bringing visitors off the highway and onto the main street, with more "wow factor" needed to convince people to stop and spend money.

Council chief executive officer Deb Larwood said a major takeaway from the week was to take the opportunities the town already has.

"We need to communicate better, we need to sell ourselves better," she said.

Mayor Dean Johnson said the people of the town were a major asset for attracting tourism.

"We hear all the time, 'it's the friendliest town we've ever been to'," he said.

"It's really those personal connections we have our visitors."

Mr Kenyon will present a draft strategy to the community next month and finalise the strategy by June 30.

Mrs Larwood said enacting the plan as soon as possible was a priority.

"We want to get the ball rolling as soon as we can," she said.