Wagga Wagga is a trade and investment goldmine according to visiting US dignitary, the Chargé d’Affaires ad interim, James Carouso, more commonly known as the Acting US Ambassador.
Mr Carouso’s two-day visit to the region took in the Visy pulp and paper mill in Tumut, Wagga’s Kapooka Army Recruit Training Centre, plus meeting Wagga business leaders and entrepreneurs.
“First of all it’s important to remember that no country is just a capital city, and as we saw in elections in Britain and the US, people outside the major capitals have a voice and an opinion, so I felt it was important to go out and meet people in regional Australia,” Mr Carouso said.
Local business identities jumped at the opportunity to meet with the acting US Ambassador at a dinner and lecture on Wednesday, however it seems the greatest impression has been left on the Ambassador himself, after he made specific mention of Wagga entrepreneurs Simone Eyles, who created coffee App 365 Cups, Dianna Somerville who started up the now-Australia-wide entrepreneur competition Pitchfest, and Wagga’s battery recycling plant Enirgi Power Storage at Bomen.
“I had no idea Wagga was so vibrant. There is so much going on here!” Mr Carouso said.
He said the visit to Wagga has inspired him to spread the word about investment opportunities.
“I want to tell the American business community in Sydney and Melbourne about the activity going on here in Wagga, and that they should be looking at potential business opportunities here, that’s one,” Mr Carouso said. “Two; I will be telling businesses in America that instead of going to Sydney and Melbourne, they should instead think of going to rural areas, especially if they have a rural background themselves.”
The potential flow-on effects to the Wagga economy cannot be overstated as the US is Australia’s number one source of foreign investment, and according to Mr Carouso, Wagga is in the box seat.
Mr Carouso applauded the proposed Intermodal Freight and Logistics Hub at Bomen which he said, “makes perfect sense”; the food science program at Charles Sturt University for potential investment and trade opportunities; and Riverina dairy businesses.
“Maybe we could hook them up with some US universities,” Mr Carouso said.
“There’s always something and the one thing governments can be really good at is making connections and helping to facilitate, and I love that, and that’s what I happen to be good at.”
While world issues and constant chatter about US/Australian leaders and their personalities draw attention, Mr Carouso says trade and policies remain, and Wagga can use this to its advantage.