The small township of Rochester in Victoria’s Campaspe Shire, was devastated by the announcement that Murray Goulburn would close the door on the Rochester manufacturing plant that had sustained the town for 40 years.
The milk plant, in the heart of Rochester, was the focal point of the small rural town.
Surrounded by irrigated farming land, the township developed and grew around the factory.
When the town lost its largest employer last January, the residents could have chosen to ‘throw in the towel’ but instead they decided to address the issue head on.
Residents joined forces to create “Rochester Open for Business” through which they engaged with local and state government to develop a social and economic plan to set a future direction for the township without a Murray Goulburn.
Together, a coordinated response was delivered.
The nine-month project involved significant community consultation, using Campaspe Shire Council’s newly adopted community engagement framework based on the IAP2 framework.
The engagement focused on the community, not Council, identifying ‘what makes Rochy great’ and developing key priorities.
The result was a plan that created a platform for economic growth and social cohesion through celebrating the strengths of the town and its people.
Four key directions were developed:
Link the town to the land – reveal the surrounding land and promote local nature, open space and agriculture.
A great place to live – build on unique assets to retain and attract people to live and prosper there.
See the opportunity – encourage and support new ideas, explore options by working together.
Share the skills – create more opportunities for revealing local expertise and craftsmanship.
Projects were broken down into short, medium and long term, and the plan will help build positive perceptions of Rochester and act as a guide for community supported economic development.
Two projects have already been completed, painting of the Graincorp silos and Tiger Bikes, a bike sharing program, both well received.
The new Rochy is leading the way.