The Courier applauds the further expansion of the nascent giant that is the Mt Helen tech park.
IBM has often been shy of publicity and the average person on the Ballarat Street might not even know the vast multi-national has an important regional headquarters near the University. But news that it will add 150 new jobs to its workforce is not only good news for those hopeful employees but also for all the wider ramifications this brings to a regional city.
On one hand the continued success of the Tech park in attracting such a significant client is a major step in ensuring the increased diversification of Ballarat industry.
The latest Census stats show professional and managerial job numbers are on the rise in Ballarat. While Ballarat’s IT numbers and renown may still be some way off that point where it becomes a byword for “Australia’s Silicone Valley”, the successful partnership between the University of Ballarat, the private IT sector and the state government should be encouraged.
But before The Courier slips too readily into congratulation it must as an advocate for the community note that with all growth comes a cost. Already the success of the Mt Helen corridor has registered some concern from residents.
The long beleaguered Main Road, where even the expensive lane works could not be considered much more than a temporary fix, is simply one instance.
The underlying point is that if unsupported growth undermines the benefits that regional locations first offered, whether they are easy commuting, cheaper property costs or lifestyle, then it potentially damages both future prospects and the place itself. Growth that is in a word unsustainable.
For Ballarat, the tech park and the whole university precinct have a bright future so the time to plan in a broad sense for that future is now.
If this means a full duplication of Main Road or even developing Yankee flat Road into an eastern Ballarat ring road then the problems and potentials should be dealt with before growth stress impells too hasty action.
Any such project would realistically be years away but the growth will not wait.