COMMUNITIES in the Riverina and Central West will receive more than $150,000, with the Nationals’ Member for Riverina Michael McCormack securing a grant through round one of the Building Better Regions Fund – Community Investments Stream.

Farmers around Forbes will benefit from a $70,000 boost, with the Forbes Shire Council successful in its application to develop an agricultural strategic plan for the region.

The money will go towards developing an agricultural strategic plan for the Forbes Shire, focusing on livestock production, dairy, hemp, forestry, horticulture, biofuel, aquaculture, agri-tourism, cropping, and the Central West Livestock Exchange.

The Coolamon Shire is also about to get pumped with a $45,800 grant to build a portable bike track for its residents.

Other winners from the funding include the Eastern Riverina Arts, which will receive $19,350 in a bid to attract more touring artists to the region, and Wagga Wagga City Council, which was successful in snaring $18,400 to commission a report to transition the Fusion Festival to a sustainable event.

Coolamon Shire Council will use the money to install concrete slab launch pads and a portable modular pumptrack to rotate among the Shire’s villages.

Mr McCormack said the Building Better Regions Fund (BBRF) focused on creating jobs, driving economic growth and building stronger regional communities into the future.

“It is a pleasure to be able to deliver this money to organisations so that they can further enhance our communities and make them even better places to live and work,” Mr McCormack said.

“The Liberals and Nationals in Government will continue to work hard to provide regional and rural Australians the economic tools to boost their vibrant communities.”

Coolamon Shire Mayor John Seymour said the pumptrack project would help make smaller communities in the Coolamon region more family-friendly.

“These smaller communities, if they don’t receive funding from the Government then they can’t get (these type of projects off the ground),” Councillor Seymour said.

“I’d like to say thanks to the Government, especially Michael McCormack, for securing these funds.”

Eastern Riverina Arts Executive Director Scott Howie said regional communities would be enriched by the increased arts and cultural activity, as well as the increased economic activity, that the money would bring.

“What these funds allows us to do is to work with our local councils to ensure we can promote our region to touring musicians and performing artists,” Mr Howie said.

“We have some great venues across the Riverina, having all the technical information at our fingertips will make planning tours so much easier.

“Eastern Riverina Arts is committed to working in partnership with all levels of Government to enhance the creativity and vibrancy of our region"

Wagga Wagga Mayor Greg Conkey said the Fusion Multicultural Street Festival, which is now in its seventh year, has grown to become one of the city’s biggest events, with more than 10,000 people attending from across the region and interstate.

“Each year at Fusion we celebrate the 112 countries of origin, 107 language groups and 62 faiths that make up our community by sharing each other’s food, art, music and culture,” Councillor Conkey said.

“This grant will allow us to review the success of Fusion over the past seven years, look at ways to improve the festival, and investigate the best way forward to ensure Fusion remains a sustainable festival into the future.”

BBRF Round One is now closed to further applications; however, applicants that were unsuccessful may consider applying for funding under Round Two, which is likely to open towards the end of the year.

Shane Manning