MAYOR Reg Kidd has countered fears of a downturn in Orange's retail sector, arguing out-of-town businesses were "voting with their feet" by investing in the city.
Woolworths Group, the parent company of Big W, confirmed a review of its stores is under way, with a report from Macquarie Wealth Management predicting up to a third of the chain's 183 nationwide stores would close.
There's no indication the Orange City Centre department store will be among them, but with the memory of Myer's closure two years ago still fresh in residents' minds, Cr Kidd pointed to growth of other metrics as proof of the city's robust retail prospects.
"While the retail sector is struggling in some country towns, we've got a shopping centre that's spending millions on a major upgrade to make it very attractive for new retail tenants," he said.
If I was going to choose a regional city to set up a new business, I know where I'd be choosing.Orange mayor Reg Kidd
"Don't take my word for it. Corporate investors are looking at Orange's prospects and voting with their feet."
Cr Kidd compiled what Orange City Council labeled a "snapshot ... on Orange's growing economy and solid business prospects".
Included was data on the city's population growth of 4,600 people in the decade to June 30, 2017; that 60 per cent of the Central West's job vacancies advertised on employment website Seek on Monday were based in Orange; and the city's tourism visitor numbers topping more than one million people per year.
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Cr Kidd said the flow of large-scale enterprises opening in the city was "great news".
"Orange is now the headquarters of the some of the expanding National Disability Insurance Scheme providers, we're the base for the new Regional Investment Corporation, Quest apartments and the new private hospital are making huge progress," he said.
Orange City Council's Employment and Economic Development Committee chair Cr Tony Mileto said data about the construction industry - both residential and non-residential - underpinned the city's strong economy.
When you look at the figures comparing nearby centres, Orange comes out way in front.Councillor Tony Mileto
According to Cr Mileto, around 300 new residential buildings a year were being built in the Orange local government area, at a value of more than $88 million, and a further $12 million was being spent on residential renovations.
He said in the last financial year there was a further $125 million in non-residential construction.
"That adds up to $100 million in residential confidence that the city is going ahead, and a total construction industry in Orange approaching one quarter of a billion dollars a year," Cr Mileto said.
"These figures don't include the major $50 million Bloomfield Medical Centre," he said.
"When you look at the figures comparing nearby centres, Orange comes out way in front."
Cr Kidd said he was encouraged by the latest information.
"Individual businesses will always be facing challenges, but if I was going to choose a regional city to set up a new business, I know where I'd be choosing," he said.
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