Tenterfield has to future-proof itself before the highway bypass comes in, Councillor Greg Sauer said, and projects like the Angry Bull Trails mountain bike precinct need to be up, running and successful before then to make that happen.
Cr Sauer was among 20 participants in the morning community workshop to learn more about the project at the Tenterfield School of Arts on Monday, with another scheduled for 5.30pm that afternoon. (Register at Eventbrite if attending.)
He anticipates the Tenterfield bypass is 10-12 years away, following completion of the Singleton bypass, allowing time for Tenterfield to become a holiday destination for bike riders in the meantime. This would require everybody to 'get onboard', however.
"We can't be 9-to-5, Monday-to-Friday anymore," he said.
"Hospitality and retail have to change their attitude. We need to have businesses in town 'open for business'."
He stressed this doesn't mean every business open all the time, but that there has to be eating and shopping options available to the many visitors the project plans to bring in.
Joe Smith of Angry Bull Trails was one of the presenters at the workshop and he intends to open his new bike shop from Thursday-to-Monday, for instance, to cater to the weekend crowd.
He sees commercial opportunities for businesses directly related to construction and maintenance of the proposed 150 kilometres of trails and to serving the mountain bikers, including bike sales, repairs and rentals. Existing and new businesses in the fields of hospitality and catering, food and beverage, accommodation, fuel supplies, mechanical repairs, professional services, local craft and souvenirs will all be in demand along with suppliers of shuttle and transport services, adventure and camping gear, sports clothing and apparel, cultural tours and events, and event management.
As well as providing training and employment opportunities for local youth, organisers are hoping there are some entrepreneurial young people in the community who create their own start-ups.
Mr Smith along with Angry Bull Trail colleague Vince Sherry have teamed up with Regional Development Australia's David Thompson, who prepared the business case and is also participating in the workshops.
Minter Ellison is providing all the legal work pro bono, and Professor Ingrid Burkett and Alex Hannant, Professor of Practice -- co-directors of the Yunus Centre within the Business School of Griffith University (Mr Sherry's alma mater) -- are supporting the project and providing advice.
Marcus Watson of BackTrack is a key partner. BT Works is providing the youth education, training and mentoring services that are the backbone of the social aspect of the project's blend of commercial and social enterprise.
"That's the reason behind why we're doing this," Mr Sherry said, "to effect long-term sustainable economic development in Tenterfield."
All partners provided input at the workshops, either in person or electronically.
Cr Bronwyn Petrie and Cr Bob Rogan who were at the morning workshop along with Cr Sauer are all keen to hear feedback on the Angry Bull Trails project -- positive and negative -- as council will debate releasing a further $30,000 to fund trail design at its next meeting on November 25.
Thereafter the project will be funded not by ratepayers but through memberships, sponsorships, events, merchandising, philanthropy and crowd and equity funding.
"People out there are looking to park money with enterprises that are making change," Mr Sherry said.
Mr Thompson said the timing right now is perfect to secure grant funding for the $7.5 million project. Feedback from workshop participants will accompany a grant application to the Bushfire Local Economic Recover Fund, closing December 11.
'Love it', 'brilliant', 'visionary', 'ticks all the boxes' and 'the most exciting thing we've heard for Tenterfield in 20 years' is already on record.
The primary target market -- so-called LOHAS (Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability) -- are cashed-up, well-educated and keen on sustainable living and 'green' initiatives. And a lot of mountain bike enthusiasts amongst them are keen to come here, according to survey results. Their non-riding group members will also be looking for things to do be it golfing, wine tasting, touring or shopping.
Then there's the local converts. Mr Sherry said four or five local Rotarians were lining up to buy mountain bikes by the end of his recent presentation to them.
"Give them my number," Mr Smith said.
The project's impact could be far-reaching. Within five years of the Blue Derby facility opening in Tasmania, house prices in the small community had doubled.