Green Light for Ambitious Balonne Shire Development
The Balonne Shire Council has secured funding for its ambitious multi-million dollar plan to transform the St George town centre into a state-of-the-art learning complex incorporating a regional university hub. Balonne Shire Mayor, Samantha O’Toole welcomed the announcement of federal funding which will see two intertwined projects rolled out simultaneously to bridge the education divide.
“Today, we have turned our dreams to create equality of opportunity for our community into reality. This is the culmination of years of hard work and planning to make the Balonne Shire future-ready.”
Cr O’Toole thanked Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack, for $5 million in Building Better Regions Fund (BBRF) funding to redevelop the St George Library into a vibrant precinct to connect and engage the community in the new age of digital learning.
Further federal funding for Regional University Centres will see the establishment of a Country Universities Centre (CUC) in St George and Dirranbandi.
“For too long, we’ve seen our students struggle with relocating to the capital cities to pursue tertiary education. Now our young community can access the education they aspire to from home.”
Cr O’Toole said the university hubs would also deliver never-before-offered opportunities for mature age students, local employers and employees.
“Education will provide the passport to a successful future.” - Mayor Samantha O'Toole.
The new St George Library-Hub Building in Victoria Street, with revitalised Greenspace, and refurbished Cultural Centre Façade and Annexe will include;
Increased library collection from 7 914 items to 13 500 items
CUC Balonne tertiary education mini-hub
Maker’s Space for innovation, creativity and robotics
3D Print hub for prototypes and new product development
Contemporary conference and workshop spaces with high-speed internet
Dedicated business space, hot desks and office hire including virtual services
Teen and Junior feature areas
Dedicated area for the celebration of local history and culture, and a new art gallery
“This project builds for the future by facilitating career and business development and providing a rich community learning space,” Cr O’Toole said.
“It will re-energise our region. On conservative figures, $6.3 million will be spent in the local area during the construction phase, generating a further $2.3 million for our economy.”
“Co-ordinating the funding applications across government departments was challenging, and I would like to thank Member for Maranoa, David Littleproud, for advocating on behalf of our residents.”
Cr O’Toole also thanked the Ministers for Education, and Regional Education, Dan Tehan and Andrew Gee, for supporting the university hubs and acknowledged the contribution of the former Mayor Richard Marsh, and former Deputy Mayor Fiona Gaske, in the initial stages of the project.
“The Balonne Shire has been through extended years of drought, and this investment in building capacity through further education is an important turning point in the fortunes of the region.”