How the Sunny Coast wants to find another $12 billion to measure up
The Sunshine Coast is on a $12 billion quest to reshape itself and measure up to places like Brisbane, but it isn’t easy when the economy is so narrow and there are some in the community who don’t want growth.
The Sunshine Coast Council has released its regional economic development strategy in a bid to grow its economy to $33 billion by 2033, requiring a $12 billion jump in a decade.
It won’t be easy. The coast relies heavily on tourism, lifestyle and population growth. It’s mostly small business and its night time economy is remarkably weak. There’s no convention centre and suffers from the problem of people shifting down the road to Brisbane for better paying jobs while public transport was poor with no trains to the major centres.
Business also thinks there are not enough young people which is creating labour shortages.
And the council believes that retaining character will be challenge with growth hurtling towards another 200,000 people over the next 20 years. Its strategy said there was a potential conflict with some in the community who don’t want growth and surveys found business believed lifestyle was its biggest economic asset. Tourism ranked third.
Locals valued its unique character and that was being challenged “due to an influx of new residents as well as the sheer size of the region and its project future size’’.
Far from ditching tourism the coast is aiming to expand the economic base to seven high-value industries: food and agriculture, health and wellbeing, knowledge, clean tech, tourism, sport and leisure, education and research and aviation.
In 10 years it wants its household income levels to be above the state average. In 2022 it was almost 5 per cent below state average, which is why people head elsewhere.
“Our new economy will be driven through technology and innovation, knowledge and talent plus an underlying principle of equity and prosperity for our entire community, further cementing our vision to be Australia’s most sustainable region,’’ the report said.
Mayor Mark Jamieson said the region’s high-value jobs were growing at a fast pace with 17,000 new positions created since 2018, bringing the current total to 92,000 high-value jobs and nearing its goal of 100,000 jobs by 2033.
“Meanwhile our regional exports have grown solidly recently and are now exceeding the growth required to reach our goal of 20 per cent,” Jamieson said.
Helping in broadening the economic base was an expansion of the airport, a new city centre at Maroochydore and its position as a delivery partner for the 2032 Olympics.