LESS than 10 per cent of respondents rated Bathurst's economy and job opportunities as poor when they took part in a recent survey.
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Though the biggest result came from those who rated both the city's economy and job opportunities as good, a surprising number were also neutral about both.
The results are contained in the inaugural ACM (publisher of the Western Advocate) Heartbeat of Australia study which was released recently.
Produced in partnership with the University of Canberra, the study was based on the responses of thousands of Australians from regional areas and the major metropolitan cities in a 15-minute online questionnaire between March and May.
Asked to rate the employment opportunities in Bathurst, 49 per cent of local survey participants said those opportunities were good (about the same as 48 per cent in Orange and 51 per cent in Dubbo), nine per cent said they were poor (compared with seven per cent in Orange and 14 per cent in Dubbo) and 38 per cent were neutral (it was 38 per cent in Orange and 30 per cent in Dubbo).
When it came to rating the Bathurst economy, 59 per cent of local survey participants said the economy was good (less than Orange's 66 per cent, but greater than Dubbo's 57 per cent) and eight per cent said it was poor (compared with Orange's six per cent and Dubbo's nine per cent).
Of the Bathurst respondents, 27 per cent were neutral about the local economy (about equivalent to Orange and Dubbo's 26 per cent).
Mayor Robert Taylor and Bathurst Business Chamber president Paul Jones both talked to the Western Advocate about the local economy when Bathurst's BizMonth was launched in early September.
Cr Taylor said the COVID lockdowns had knocked Bathurst around, as they had knocked around towns and cities across the state, but he felt Bathurst was emerging with strength.
"My dear old dad used to say that if ever there is an economic downturn, Bathurst is the last to suffer and the first to recover," he said.
He pointed to new retailers announced for the Gateway development at Kelso (Anaconda, Harris Scarfe Home and Beacon Lighting), Simplot's planned $65m upgrade to its Bathurst manufacturing facility and IBM's partnership with CSU that will create hundreds of new jobs as evidence of the city's economic strength.
Mr Jones, meanwhile, said he believed the mood was positive as Bathurst left lockdowns behind, but there were some changes that had been wrought in the CBD that would not be unwound.
"There have been a few businesses close [in the Bathurst CBD] and not reopen after COVID," he said.
"You're also seeing people using online more because they were educated about that during COVID.
"You look at what's happening in the online space with delivery companies here and you look at what the big supermarkets are doing with deliveries: life has changed after COVID and it's not going back to how it was, so you have got to change and adapt your business with that."
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