Whenever there’s pressure to deliver immediate results, it can sometimes be hard to take the time to think long-term and put in place strategies which will benefit those who follow.
But Matthew Hyde is so grateful to the vision of the leaders who came before him at Wodonga City Council that he has made planning for 2050 and beyond a priority.
“Currently we are seeing so much change, and without the foresight and vision of the past executive team and past elected representatives leading our community, we wouldn’t be where we are here now,” he says of the Australian town in northern Victoria.
“We’ve got a responsibility to make sure that we continue that, which adds a lot of pressure to me personally but is something we as an executive team want to continue to deliver for our community.”
The progressive, vibrant town of Wodonga is thriving. The population is growing, tourist numbers are back to pre-pandemic levels and many of the local facilities have received shiny new upgrades.
But Wodonga hasn’t reached a plateau. There are plenty of ambitious plans for the near future including working with North East Water to secure supply for growth corridors and construction of a hospital in association with developer Criterion Property Group.
“It’s about being very visionary for the future.”
“It’s about being very visionary for the future,” Hyde explains. “I think a lot of the things that are a real big success in our town at the moment are based on decisions made 10 and 20 years ago. Things like working toward removing the rail lines from the city center and creating a large block industrial estate at Logic. We’re seeing the benefits of those really coming through now.”
The construction of Logic certainly serves as a success story. The Logic site is ideally located for manufacturers, able to reach 75 percent of Australia’s population by next-day transport from its location on the Hume Freeway, with SCT Logistics offering an intermodal hub for freight.
So far, Logic has led to the creation of more than 600 jobs. Companies like XLam, the first cross-laminated timber manufacturing company in Australia, SCT Logistics and Opal Fibre Packaging Australia have chosen it as their base.
“We’re looking at working in partnership with Latrobe University and the TAFE [Technical and Further Education] locally,” Hyde says. “They both have significant sites, and it ties in with our Logic center. Logic is placed on a very specific east-west hub as well as the north-south hub on the rail line for inland rail.”
Hyde believes the key to building success both now and for the future is engagement.
“Internally it’s about engaging with the staff. You can only succeed if you’ve got a team of successful that bring their skills together for common goals,” he says. “It’s also engaging with our community to make sure that what we deliver for the future, not just the here and now, is right.”
Delivering for the future is a process that requires a lot of planning and preparation work, so Hyde and his team have to make sure that is all in place by the time tomorrow rolls around.
“We have to know people’s expectations, manage those expectations and deliver on providing a vibrant community into the future.”
“We have to know people’s expectations, manage those expectations and deliver on providing a vibrant community into the future,” he adds.
The average age of a citizen of Wodonga is 34, so planning for life a few decades along is both important and exciting. With work just launched on the 2050 plans project which promises plenty of blue sky projects, residents have a lot to look forward to.
“We all work to see a very vibrant and successful community,” he says. “That’s what we’re here for, that warm fuzzy feeling of success.”