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Message from the CEO

I was visiting Newcastle last week on a short family break. Greater Newcastle is Australia’s largest regional economy with larger output than the ACT. What struck me was the scale and changes evident in the city since we last visited. Construction cranes dot the horizon and a brand spanking new light rail system winds its ways down the spine of the city. The parallels with the ACT are obvious. The city feeds into a very rich agrifood region in the Hunter. The development of strategic employment centres is a priority across Greater Newcastle, including revitalising the City Centre and enhancing specialist centres like the University of Newcastle, John Hunter Hospital, the Port and Airport. Growth in these centres is expanding the regional economy and supports more jobs close to where people live.

Economic diversification here is seeing an impressive resurgence in confidence, innovation and investment. There are big lessons here for ACT economic development policy. While we are driven by services, we must work much harder at economic diversification. Economies driven by services are more susceptible to external shocks and competition from other services providers in other locations and countries. This is one reason why RDA ACT supports more ACT Government resources and investment attraction effort going towards the food industry and light manufacturing. Both these sectors can build the critical mass for a successful airfreight export hub, more tourism and job opportunities.

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