Slice of $6 billion spend on infrastructure up for grabs

THE NORTHERN Rivers has irons in the fire to secure a sizeable chunk of the $6 billion regional component of the NSW Government's Rebuilding NSW project.

The Northern Rivers NSW Business Chamber regional manager John Murray said he had been working with Regional Development Australia on infrastructure projects in the region.

"Even if only half of them come off, it's still going to mean yet another major slice of business activity coming to the region," he said.

"A lot of this could still be conditional on the government getting as much for its poles and wires as it thinks it will."

Mr Murray said adding this to work about to begin on the 155km Pacific Highway upgrade and the work on the Grafton and Harwood bridges would mean an unprecedented level of business activity for the region.

"The Northern Rivers is sitting on a long period of good times for the region," he said.

Mr Murray said talks with international database company ICN were also looking promising.

He said this would put local businesses into a database capable of matching businesses with tender opportunities arising from work on the final stage of the Pacific Highway upgrade.

"In my opinion the ICN database is the best in the world and one that would be the best for local companies to use to get themselves near the front of the queue for work that's coming here," he said.

Mr Murray said the long-term result of the spike in business activity could be greater social cohesion for the region's communities.

"It could be we will have a situation where kids don't have to leave the area to get a job," he said.

Initially this will require training organisations, primarily TAFE, working to get people "job ready" for the opportunities becoming available over the next five years.

"What we want is for as much of the $4.6 billion allocated for the highway to stick here as possible."



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