With rich farming land, a thriving oil and gas industry and a tightknit sense of community, Roma is the hub and heart of southwest Queensland. Commerce Roma president Carmen Roberts writes about the town she calls home.
Since moving to Roma in 2009, I have watched the town go from a quietly humming country town that had a little bit of this and that and serviced the regional community quite well, to a thriving growth town with products and services brimming over providing us with everything we could need or want.
It has been quite a journey for locals new and old, and the businesses have been through a rollercoaster ride of adjusting and adapting to a new trading culture and very different customers.
For a very long time Roma and the Maranoa has been known for its primary production, natural resources and valuable local assets. We have the largest livestock selling center in the southern hemisphere and run one to two million cattle in the Maranoa alone.
We are home to Queensland’s oldest winery since 1863 and the oil and gas industry was pioneered here back 1900 – so we are no strangers to being a rich and prosperous region. Our many events and festivals are known far and wide and we are a destination not just a passerby.
Today we are looking at the second phase in the massive CSG boom and are assessing our strengths and weaknesses to plan for the next 50 years. The last five to eight years, however, have been like nothing we could have imagined.
We have welcomed hundreds of new residents, watched businesses pop up and shut down, and experienced an influx of transient workers servicing the recourse sector. Our councils amalgamated, our airport tripled in size, and industrial estates grew ten fold almost overnight.
Today in Roma you can get a barista coffee, a gourmet meal on almost every corner, you can hire nearly anything, and as for local business – if they don’t have it in store, they can have it in for you overnight.
The change has been massive, I seem to never leave town because I am so busy with Commerce Roma and my own business trying to keep up with the growth, and because I have everything I need right here.
The recent CSG boom has been good for the town, we have adjusted better than most other towns in mining history and we continue to work to our strengths.
We have not been missed by nature in the last few years with a continuing record drought and two once-in-a-hundred-year floods knocking the town to its knees right in the middle of the CSG construction phase, however we have rallied in spirit and support and are making a speedy recovery.
I do sound ever the optimist and a little town-proud, but I have evidence to back up my enthusiasm. I have been part of Commerce Roma for more than four years and am in my second term as president. I have been invested in ensuring the stable growth of our local business community and have seen the good and bad firsthand – and trust me if there is a complaint or problem in our town I know about it.
I personally believe that time or money spent in Roma is a good investment, and could not think of a better place to live enjoyably, raise my family and grow a business. We have access to our capital city within a short one-hour flight, excellent schools, a great community, endless development opportunities, and the lowest unemployment rate in Queensland.
We essentially have it all covered here in Roma when you look at Queensland’s four-pillar economy – we have tourism, agriculture, resources and construction, all indicating a prosperous further.
The iconic bottle tree represents the Maranoa and Roma well with its natural resilience, deep roots, ever-renewing leaves, outreaching branches, and a strong robust center.
“We have welcomed hundreds of new residents, watched businesses pop up and shut down, and experienced an influx of transient workers servicing the recourse sector.”
Commerce Roma, President
Carmen Roberts moved to Roma in 2009, where she started her company, Compass West. In 2012 she joined Commerce Roma, and is in her second term of being president.
Commerce Roma was established in 1996 and was originally known as the Roma Business Development Association. Their purpose is to provide networking, advocacy, information and promotions for the current and future business community in Roma.