``Come for a weekend. Stay for a lifetime.’’
That’s the message from Lithgow District Chamber of Commerce to lure new residents and businesses beyond the Blue Mountains to the sprawling pasturelands of the Central West.
Sydneysiders can catch a glimpse into the town’s relaxed way of life at Lithgow Business and Lifestyle Expo at The Foundations Portland from May 6 to 7, where they can browse up to 100 stalls and chat with business owners and service providers.
An art exhibition will also be held at The Annexe within the heritage precinct of the former Portland Cement Works.
Lithgow Chamber vice-president Steve Ring said: ``Packing up a home and shifting your partner, children and pets to an unknown area is a huge upheaval for families. Likewise, relocating is a major undertaking for any business.
``So we invite you to visit first before committing to escape the pressures of the Greater Sydney region.’’
Visitors are encouraged to check out Lithgow hospital and doctors, schools, shops and government services; and experience the leisure and nature activities in cafes and hotels, activities and national parks.
``Soak up the serenity, breathe the fresh air and see for yourself how much space we have while you scope out business opportunities at the same time.’’
Expected to attract up to 5000 visitors, the expo will be followed by a three-day showcase on June 13 - 15 to a small group of targeted investors, including tourism accommodation and attractions companies, that may not be aware of the emerging opportunities within the area.
Surrounded by national parks and state forests, several major projects in the works will also help transform Lithgow.
They include the $50 million-dollar National Parks & Wildlife Service Gardens of Stone State Conservation Area project and The Portland Foundations heritage reactivation and subdivision of the former cement factory.
There are significant plans being prepared to repurpose the former Wallerawang thermal power station by Greenspot.
The area needs to attract new industries and young families to plug the gap created by the outgoing coal mining and thermal power generation within the next 20 years, Mr Ring said.
``Lithgow is known as the cradle of industrial Australia, with a long history of coal mining, cement, iron and more, but that era is coming to a close and we need to reinvent ourselves and be ready for a vibrant new future.’’
Upgrades to the Great Western Highway have cut road travel time to Lithgow from Sydney CBD to less than 2.5 hours. Further upgrades to the highway and the Bells Line of Road, along with other road infrastructure, are planned, while trains run direct from Central.
``Then there’s the Western Sydney International Airport that will bring Lithgow even closer to Australia’s newest global gateway,’’ Mr Ring said.
Lithgow Business & Lifestyle Expo will be held at The Foundations Portland, Williwa St, Portland, on May 6 and 7.
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This event is made possible under the Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund, co-funded by the Australian Government and NSW Government.