Harden Regional Development Corporation has welcomed a new Chief operating Officer, Chris Ireland. Mr Ireland has an extensive background in economic development in regional areas.
"I started work at a council in the Whitsunday Shire, almost 20 years ago." Mr Ireland said.
"In those days, the Whitsundays was a tourism place, but not the tourism mecca it is today. We (the council) saw what could be done and set about getting the community onboard, and achieved some great things."
Mr Ireland was then 'poached' by the Gold Coast City Council, the second largest council in Australia.
"That was a steep learning curve in tourism and economic development." Mr Ireland said
"I was there for a very long time and loved the area, but I was then made an offer to lead a team in Rockhampton. I took it because I find regional areas far more rewarding. You can see the results; you get to see the looks on peoples faces when developments go ahead."
Mr Ireland then heard about the opportunity with the HRDC.
"I look for opportunities where my skill set can make a difference to a community." Mr Ireland said.
"I was leading a team of over 250 people; I thought it might be good to take a step back and use my skills in a town where it was needed."
Mr Ireland said that he can see that this region has a lot to offer, and a huge benefit is the drive market from Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne.
"I see one of my main jobs will be making people aware of the grants that are on offer and assisting them with the grant process." Mr Ireland said.
"There are some fantastic grants available for community groups, but not many people have the time, or the expertise to go through the application process. That is where I can help."
Mr Ireland said he is looking forward to helping promote our region, in a strong collaboration with the Hilltops Council.
"I am looking forward to meeting more of the community, proving myself and seeing peoples lives change." Mr Ireland said.