The City of Greater Bendigo looks after a population of just over 100,000 people, delivering services and facilities to enhance their lives. Craig Niemann has been CEO of the council for the past seven years and certainly knows what makes the area tick. His role is to lead the region to new heights, promoting and enhancing its liveability. The CEO Magazine sat down with Craig to discuss what he loves about the regional city, about recently completed works such as the Ulumbarra Theatre, and his vision for the future.

The CEO Magazine: You have worked in the local government sector for more than 25 years, which has included roles with the Borough of Eaglehawk and the Shire of East Loddon. How has this extensive experience shaped your style of leadership?

Craig: My style is a collaborative one, where I support staff to be the best they can be. I think it has also developed into one of being very patient, caring, and community minded, in terms of why we exist as a local government and what we can do to help people live better-quality lives.

What is unique about Bendigo, and how would you sell it to the world as a great place to live, work, and play?

There’'s a gold-rush history to Bendigo which dates back to the 1850s. I think that was the beginning of the creation of the city. The architecture and design that followed was outstanding, and that remains a key feature of what we see today. Heritage buildings, wide main streets, parks in the middle of the city —they are all things that really add value to the way a city operates and are still in place today.

The heritage has been a really important part, and then that is combined with the new. For example, Bendigo Bank has built new headquarters among the heritage within the city, and that is an outstanding outcome and a demonstration of the mix of old and new, and how it can work really well together. The Bendigo Bank exemplifies the relationship between community and business. They'’ve taken the community banking model right around Australia, and I think that has helped to brand the place because people understand where Bendigo is now. That’s been great.

Then we have taken it to another level with our arts and culture. That'’s one of our strengths, and we have invested in that area. It has helped us with our branding across Australia. People now have an understanding of what Bendigo is —a great place to live in and to visit.