COMMENT: The people of the Peel reach out, cope and adapt

2020 is certainly a year to go down in history and will no doubt live on in our memories of this time and through the stories we share.

While it has undoubtedly for many been a year with more than its fair share of stress and overwhelm, I've also been genuinely amazed by the way the people of our region demonstrate their ability to reach out, cope and adapt.

It's this show of character that forms the foundation for the resilience we need to build on to achieve regional prosperity.

Retaining our heritage, our history, and our character as a region is just as important as looking to the future. We're in the process of transforming from fishing towns to thriving regional centres, from farms and traditional agriculture to agri-innovation and export hubs.

We're transforming from population growth fueled by lifestyle migration to being driven by employment and industry opportunities. And our regional economy is transforming from a service-delivery base that's highly dependent on the state economy to a more export, strategic, innovation and trade driven economy, independent and strong in its own right.

If we're going to match our opportunities with growth and see this transition through to fruition, we need to enhance the region's natural, social, produced, financial and human capital base.

We need to protect our natural environment and prioritise initiatives that sustain its health for generations to come.

We need to support our local communities to provide a sense of place and belonging to our people.

We need to harness, encourage and support new and expanding industries, regional businesses and a workforce that's capable now as well as future-ready.

The investments we make today in infrastructure and public amenity, business and industry growth and regional investment, tourism, education and strong and resilient communities is always with an eye for the future and a nod to the past.

We're a region with such compelling opportunity for sustained growth born of marrying our natural location and geography with emerging global markets, local expertise and know-how and the X-factor of our regional character.

You can feel it in the way our regional producers will tell you about years of trial and error to land on the perfect cheese, or brew, or loaf.

You can hear it in the voices of local business owners as they tell you how close to the wall they came before they crystalised an idea to pivot and were able to see the business thrive again.

You can see it in the developments and redevelopments throughout the region - public spaces, rezoned land, historical buildings, regional landmarks given new leases on life to harness the future and at the same time, preserve the past.

It's our heritage, it's our character and it's our future - it's our Peel.

Now that's exciting because where we're heading in the future has as much to do with where we've been as where we're going.

  • Paddi Creevey OAM is chair of the Peel Development Commission.