The Cradle Coast Regional Futures Plan will provide the regional leadership to unlock opportunities for local and regional economic growth. With financial support from the Australian Government through the Building Better Regions Fund, the Cradle Coast Authority (CCA) is developing a regional economic development plan – the Cradle Coast Regional Futures Plan.
The Plan will be a ‘roadmap for the region’ with stakeholders, such as the region’s nine local councils, government, business, education and community leaders, providing input.
“There are challenges across the Cradle Coast that are beyond the capacity of individual councils, communities, governments and industry sectors,” CCA Deputy Chief Representative and Latrobe Mayor Peter Freshney said. “Working regionally and collectively makes sense when our communities are so interdependent.”
The region is a major contributor to the Tasmanian economy – 21 per cent of Tasmania’s Gross State Product (GSP) comes from the Cradle Coast, but more needs to be done if we want continued sustainable growth and improved prosperity.
“There is currently no regional plan or agreed approach to develop the region’s economy,” CCA CEO Brett Smith said. “You wouldn’t invest in a business without a business plan, the same sentiment applies here.” The Futures Plan has provided the opportunity for community, business, education and government leaders to work together to guide decision making, priority setting and actions to improve the region’s competitiveness and productivity.
“This is not a plan that will finish up on the shelf to collect dust. The focus will be on doing,” Mr Smith said. Dr Kim Houghton, from the Regional Australia Institute (RAI), and demographer Dr Amina Keygan, have analysed regional data to inform the development of The Plan.
The RAI was engaged to undertake an assessment using their Regional Pathfinder approach which has been used in several Australian regional areas to develop economic development strategies.
RAI is Australia’s leading think tank devoted to issues concerning regional Australia. They gather and analyse the best information available and work with regional leaders to understand their challenges and help them identify opportunities for future development. “RAI will help us identify and prioritise the region’s key strengths and specialisations and related investment opportunities that will provide the highest potential returns,” Mr Smith said. Their data has revealed areas of opportunity lie in:
- Advanced manufacturing
- Food, beverage and forestry
- Visitor economy
- Workforce, education and training provision
- Enterprise, entrepreneurship and innovation
“These issues are all identified as areas the region can take action on – through internal collaboration and working with external stakeholders like TasTAFE and UTAS,” Dr Houghton said. “The challenge is regional in scale, and a strong regional effort is needed to have an impact on what is a very challenging problem,” Dr Houghton said.
“The end game here is to raise average incomes across the region – through better paying jobs, that are higher skilled, full-time and attuned to employer needs: more jobs and better jobs.”
According to Dr Keygan’s findings, between 2011 and 2016, the healthcare and social assistance industry experienced the greatest growth in the region, increasing by 1.9 percentage points. “Given the current economic climate in Tasmania more broadly, it is likely the growth and contraction of (some) industries will continue into the immediate future,” Dr Keygan said.
“Population ageing, and the future labour market growth provides economic and community potential for the region to leverage off the associated opportunities,” Dr Keygan said.
While the CCA will develop and implement the Futures Plan, a key objective is to develop and support an alliance of organisations, with a shared purpose and a unified voice on priority projects that will improve our region’s economic growth and living standards.
As part of the Pathfinder approach, RAI will be conducting several themed workshops (in the week of June 25) with identified industry and local government leaders to help determine and agree on actions to underpin employment growth in the region.
Outcomes from these engagements will contribute to RAI’s Pathfinder content and final report to the region, which then informs the ongoing development of the Cradle Coast Regional Futures Plan.