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City Leaders: Mark Peters creating a legacy beyond 2018

14 October 2016

THE CEO of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Corporation Mark Peters says while the much anticipated event lasts 11 days in theory, it actually presents a decade worth of opportunity for the city. 

In the week leading into  4 April 2018, more than 6,600 athletes and team officials from 71 nations and territories will converge on the Gold Coast for the sporting and cultural event.

Ensuring the event delivers a lasting legacy for the city is a priority for many Gold Coasters, with the event providing the opportunity to shape and define the region’s future.

Mark peters rsPeters says everything the Games Corporation is working on is developed with legacy in mind and highlights the promotional exposure for business, trade, investment, tourism and events will herald a new era in the region’s growth and maturity.

He says one of the key legacies of the Games is the diversification of the Gold Coast economy. 

While the city has traditionally been reliant on tourism and construction, the Gold Coast is embracing new industries.

Peters says education is evolving as a key economic driver, while the Games village and health and knowledge precinct presents new opportunities for growth in medical and research.

“Another legacy is the development of Carrara which now allows the city to look seriously at attracting professional teams that exist in the Asian region that get snowed out in our summer and go to places like Hawaii and Guam,” he says.  “They now have the opportunity to come and train here in our great facilities on the Gold Coast.”

“Physically, when we planned venues, they had a legacy outcome. Everything we do, for every venue, for all transport systems, we ask ourselves how we contribute positively to the economy, so that local, state and federal government regard their investment as positive and so the decision to host the games here was positive.”

Peters, who headed the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Bid Company before being appointed CEO of the corporation, has long championed Australia’s profile on the international sporting stage, as a competitive nation and host destination for major sporting events.

Prior to his role with the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, the businessman served in senior sporting administration roles including as CEO of the Australian Sports Commission, President of the Australian Baseball Federation and Executive member of International Baseball Federation.

While the 2018 event presents countless opportunities for the city, Peters says it comes with its challenges.

“The challenge for the organisation is that an awful lot has to happen in a very short amount of time,” he says. 

“We started off very small staff wise, and here we are with 18 months to go with 370 staff and we will need 1600 at Games time.

“When we get to 1600 at Games time, about a week later we will drop to 200-300, and then by mid-year we disappear. 

“Keeping staff excited and retaining them to be involved in a once-in-a-lifetime event is a challenge.”

Looking at the Gold Coast as a whole, Peters says transport is a key issue for the Gold Coast, along with the retention of young professionals.

“We want to stop making our kids leave the city and we want to prevent people from having to get on the M1 to head to Brisbane for work,” he says.

“The more long term jobs we can create locally, the more we are able to keep our  kids employed here and similarly, support the whole family structure.

“We hear lots of stories about tradies having to go off to other parts of Queensland and the break-up of the families and that is not what a city is about.

“We need to create more jobs to make this a great city for families.”

Peters will be speaking at the Young Professionals Gold Coast City Leaders Forum on November 11. 

He will be joined by Bob East (CEO of ASX-listed Mantra Group), Peta Fielding (CEO of Burleigh Brewing), Marion Charlton (COO of Gold Coast Airport) and Professor Ian O’Connor (Vice Chancellor of Griffith Univeristy).

The event aims to unite the Gold Coast’s established business community with up and coming city leaders to create a multi-generational voice for positive change. 

Peters says the event is important to establish the future direction of the Gold Coast.

“We need to be continually challenged and we need to have fresh ideas,” he says.  “It is a good environment to have that open discussion that is not guarded by political appropriateness.”