2024 ‘Regional Growth’ Category Honourable Mention

Lake Macquarie City Council, NSW

Delivering the New Economy for Lake Macquarie City

2024 ‘Regional Growth’ Category Honourable Mention

The Initiative

The Lake Macquarie City Council recognised change was coming more than a decade ago and began proactively working to diversify the city’s economy. Historically dominant manufacturing and coal mining sectors contracted from 37% of local output in 2011 to 23% in 2022.
Usually, economies plateau at best during periods of rapid transition, or more often decline, but Lake Macquarie’s economy has continued to thrive, adding 22,000 jobs, with in–migration driving population expansion, and economic output increasing by 7% annually between 2013 and 2023.

The University of Newcastle’s Institute for Regional Futures was commissioned to analyse economic changes over the past decade, evaluate the Council’s role in leading efforts to adjust to these changes, and assess what future changes could and should lay in store.

This research drew several conclusions on recent change, one being that industries that have filled the gap in jobs and output are driven by high rates of population growth, chiefly construction and the expansion of the care economy. Secondly, many key indicators are exhibiting increasingly positive trends. These include the attraction of younger workers, the realisation of aspirations to establish a visitor economy based on the city’s natural assets, more jobs for locals, and a slowing rate of contraction in manufacturing.

The Council has been a key driver of these outcomes. Recognising the need for a demographic shift in the city’s population profile, the Council devised a marketing strategy designed to lure capital–city millennials looking to relocate, build a business or enter the property market. Multiple ‘Make your move’ campaigns targeted 25–to–35–year–olds in Sydney’s west, highlighting the city’s affordable, stress–free lifestyle and natural assets.

As Lake Macquarie’s profile has grown, so too has private investment. More than $1.3 billion in development applications is processed annually with many city-shaping projects approved or in the pipeline including the $235 million, 30,000–person, Cedar Mill event space, the $750 million Trinity Point resort, the $120 million Lake Macquarie Private Hospital, and the $85 million BlackRock Motor Resort.

Through innovative partnerships with external thought–leaders and novel approaches to economic challenges, the Council is ensuring the city continues to thrive well into the future while tackling the challenges of a rapidly diversifying economy.

About the Category

The ‘Regional Growth’ category recognises local government initiatives which:

  • improve the liveability of a region and take advantage of region-specific opportunities;
  • empower vibrant and connected regional communities by promoting diversity and inclusion; and/or
  • strengthen investment and development opportunities, share resources, build local capability, and create jobs.

Successful initiatives in this award category benefit communities by:

  • improving productivity, employment and workforce skills throughout the regions;
  • valuing, protecting and promoting diversity, in particular Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge, cultures and traditions; and/or
  • fostering the development of self-reliant communities and regions with strong economic futures.

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