The Newcastle City Council Economic Development Strategy 2016-2019 reinforces our community’s vision for a smart, liveable and sustainable city. The report continues to deliberate on the ideas set out in the NCCs previously issued publications being:
- Newcastle 2030 – State of the City Report
- Newcastle 2030 – Our Vision for a Smart, Liveable and Sustainable City
- Connecting Newcastle Our Urban Renewal Vision.
This latest publication emphasises the shift away from the traditional backbone of our economy and acknowledges the recent expansion and growing importance of health, higher education, research centres, defence industries and professional and technical services.
NCC has rightly exploited our community’s reputation for delivering educational excellence to mould its strategic objectives further emphasising the importance of transitioning as a ‘smart and innovative city’ which embodies:
- a vibrant diverse and resilient green economy built on educational excellence and research
- a culture that supports and encourages innovation and creativity at all levels, and
- a thriving city that attracts people to live, work, invest and visit.
The strategy focuses on five key areas which in theory will underpin all activities carried out by NCC for the foreseeable future:
- Newcastle as the regional capital
- Facilitating Key Infrastructure
- Business growth and employment creation
- Innovation and creativity, and
- Developing the visitor economy.
At face value the five key areas point in the right direction and no one can disagree with ‘grand visions’ of the future; however, it was disappointing to see the Council not deliberate on how it plans to tackle one of the more prominent issues facing Newcastle. It was startling to see how the cities low growth rate forecast of just 0.72% a year for the next 15 years (157,200 to 175,000) was overlooked. Comparatively Newcastle’s growth rate is substantially worse than all of Australia’s capital cities (with the exception of Hobart) and should be a major priority for the Council if we are to succeed in delivering on the five key areas detailed in the publication.
As a city marked to solidify its title as a Regional Capital, emphasis must be placed on increasing our local population to ensure we can offer the services and capability required by a Regional Capital. Quite possibly one of our biggest opportunities is to leverage off the population boom happening in Sydney and start promoting Newcastle as simply a better alternative. It’s a fact many Sydneysiders are overly frustrated with high housing prices, long commutes, congestion and the general noise of being constantly surrounded by over 4.8million people. Newcastle must exploit this fact and pursue strategies lure some of Sydney’s best and brightest. Aside from our beautiful beaches, cheaper property, lifestyle and friendly culture economic drawcards will need to be used to lure Sydneysiders up north. The feasibility of providing development and tax incentives for new residents and businesses, diversifying our population demographic, or opening our doors wider to investment from offshore neighbours are just a few of options for consideration.