It was only some seven years ago that the Global Financial Crisis (the GFC) caused chaos across the world. This downturn and volatility in global financial markets may have started in 2007-08 but it continued for up to four years across the globe, and the Sunshine Coast was far from immune from its impacts.
In 2012, to combat the GFC and future-proof our economy, Sunshine Coast Council, the business sector and community came together to shape the region’s first ever Regional Economic Development Strategy 2013-2033 (the REDS).
Just seven years later, this 20-year blueprint to reshape our regional economy has delivered some significant results.
The Sunshine Coast economy has grown by almost $5 billion, exports are up by some 30 per cent on 2013 levels, there are more than 23,500 additional careers in important high-value industries across the region and more than 500 new businesses opening annually.
Most importantly for our community, household incomes have increased by 25 per cent from $1010 to $1260, moving considerably closer to the state average.
Both the Department of Jobs and Small Business and the Australian Local Government Association have ranked the Sunshine Coast as one of the highest-performing and job-creating economies in Australia.
The secret, according to Sunshine Coast Council Mayor Mark Jamieson, is having a plan, delivering what you say you will do and inspiring confidence.
“All levels of government, business and industry came together in 2012 and worked for eight months developing our strategy. The end result was the REDS,” he says.
“The first five-year implementation plan laid out our region-shaping projects and helped attract national and international businesses and infrastructure to the region.
“It even helped secure our much-loved first national sports team – the Sunshine Coast Lightning – under our plan to strengthen our tourism, sport and leisure high-value industry.”
Mayor Jamieson says the council, government and industry aren’t resting on their laurels and have come together to outline the next five years and set new priorities and targets.
“And the signs are already very good. I’ve made no secret of our desire for a national convention and exhibition facility and associated four- and five-star branded short-term accommodation.
“We have made progress on the latter with international hotel chain, Holiday Inn Express, planning to establish in the Maroochydore City Centre and more hotels planned. The business case for the convention and exhibition facility is done and we are building the case for investment in a mass transit solution.”
Business is pretty pumped with the results too. Will Shrapnel, founder and managing director of reigning Telstra Queensland Business of the Year, HeliMods, says the region is only getting started.
“It’s been great to work together with Sunshine Coast Council and the community on the REDS and to see some of the results of that collective work come to fruition,” he says.
“Securing projects like the international broadband submarine cable, for example, will make a big difference to our region and open up new opportunities for businesses like ours.
“Investments like these give us and our expanding talent base confidence in the region and the opportunities ahead, which helps us to continue growing.”
The region is in good shape, with $12.5 billion in public and private investment underway or in the pipeline fuelling growth in a number of significant industries across the region.
Mr Shrapnel says these projects will continue to generate increased long-term, high-paying careers for the local community.
“The REDS is important to us as a business. It’s great to be able to work together with government, industry and the community, and to take a forward-looking view at how we can collectively grow and shape the future of our region,” he adds.
A new five-year REDS Implementation Plan is now being implemented, with a suite of 40 actions to be delivered by council and industry through to 2023 to enable the region’s growth to continue.
If the next five years are anything like the previous five, we are in for a great ride.
3 key points
Sunshine Coast Council is on track to deliver these outcomes in 2033.
– A $33 billion economy.
– High-value industries to provide at least 100,000 employment opportunities.
– Household income levels above the state average.