JAMES WORKS ON A BOLLYWOOD BOOST FOR COAST
Written on the 18 March 2016 by Nick Nichols
GOLD Coast tourism identity and city council candidate Billy James (pictured) is mapping plans for a Bollywood boost to the city's economy, and he's using his connections in India to make it happen.
James, a businessman and former chairman of Economic and Cultural Development Board Gold Coast, hopes to create a strategic alliance between the Gold Coast and Mumbai in a move he says could channel major economic benefits to the tourism strip.
"We're talking about jobs for locals across broad economic sectors including tourism, health, education and a major boost for our ailing film industry," says James.
"Take the global context of Bollywood in Australia for example. The association of a $2 billion dollar Bombay industry has obvious potential for significant foreign investment which means tremendous job growth and cash flow into our household budgets."
James, whose family is part owner of an organic agri-business in India, says while the Gold Coast is heavily focused on the Chinese market, he says the Commonwealth Games opens opportunities to tap into the sub-continent, and particularly Mumbai which alone has a GDP of $300 billion.
James has taken on the task under his own steam, as a private businessman, but says he has progressed a proposal through the ruling coalition partner of Maharashtra State and Mumbai Municipality.
James is contesting Division 7 in tomorrow's city council elections, but he says regardless of the outcome he will continue to pursue the proposed alliance with India.
James, who for many years was the name behind Billy's Beach House in the long-demolished Iluka building in Surfers Paradise, says the alliance will 'retexture' the Gold Coast's cultural fabric.
"Traditionally, sister city-styled relationships focused on cultural and education exchanges, but nowadays they have the ability to stimulate economic growth, increase tourism and assist in establishing reliable business contacts which can create long-term benefits to the local community," he says.
"While the city's successful focus has been on the central Asian market, Mumbai's historical trading history and size is very compelling for the future.
"It has a fast emerging middle class and a zeal to build offshore professional partnerships.
"We have an international airport on our doorstep about to undergo a multi-million dollar transformation and our city is competing for foreign investment.
"Let's be creative and embellish this big picture initiative and lay out the welcome mat for our Indian friends. It's a big win for locals and a game-changer for Queensland."
The James family has established a foothold in the Indian market through their company Zero Waste Agro Organics, which is headed by his son Ben. The company works in partnership with agribusiness player Tata Rallis India.
"My sons Ben and Nicholas have been working in India for the last five years, growing their manufacturing business and building partnerships," says James.
"It is an incredible place to do business and the culture and the people are passionate and incredibly professional.
"We have been discussing ways to embellish these partnerships for some time and a sister city agreement certainly has a lot of synergy with our amazing Gold Coast."
Author: Nick Nichols