Pathways for development in Tassie’s Cradle Coast
The Regional Australia Institute (RAI) is working with the Cradle Coast Authority, the Cradle Coast Region’s grouping of councils, to help prepare a Futures Plan as part of the RAI’s Pathfinder program. The Futures Plan will guide investments in economic development activity in the region over the next five years.
During the last couple of months the RAI has been getting to know Tasmania’s Cradle Coast. The region is truly spectacular, as it includes Tasmania’s wild West Coast with its famed mineral resources, mountains, forests and wilderness areas, such as Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park.
The region also boasts the world’s cleanest air on Tasmania’s north-western tip, and King Island – originator of renowned beef and dairy products. Devonport is Tasmania’s northern gateway, hosting the Spirit of Tasmania and other commercial freight and logistics services. The region has a proud tradition of manufacturing too – and one of its main centres (Burnie) is ‘the city of makers’. This reflects its industrial heritage and the foundations that this has given to a new generation performing well in advanced manufacturing, papermaking, cheese making and distilling.
The RAI’s General Manager of Policy and Research, Dr Kim Houghton, has had two trips to the region so far and is very impressed.
“The region is a great example of how to grow output and jobs from what are often called ‘traditional’ industries – in this case agribusiness and advanced manufacturing. High value products and links to global supply chains in both industries are the key, and the region’s businesses are very keen to fill the job vacancies they have to support further growth,” says Dr Houghton.
The region is of particular interest to the RAI as it demonstrates a unique take on the economic structural changes that are washing through regional Australia. For many regions, agriculture and manufacturing are vital industries, but they are no longer the job providers that they used to be. Adaptations to increasingly global markets are bringing higher productivity, automation and technology – often at the expense of local jobs. The Cradle Coast region has nationally-significant specialisations in agriculture and manufacturing, and while the value of output is growing, unlike many other regions, the employment trends and prospects for these industries are also bright.
The region’s rich agricultural land is enabling growth in a wide range of agricultural products – including large and small scale horticulture, and significant processing capability as well. And in manufacturing more broadly, the region’s history of fabrication and heavy engineering is being integrated into global supply chains with a resurgence of advanced manufacturing, connecting firms large and small across the northwest coast.
The Pathfinder process combines the RAI’s analytical capacities with work to bring regional leaders together to agree on priorities for growth. The RAI has looked in depth into the links between the region’s ‘twin cities’ of Burnie and Devonport which are about 45 minutes drive apart and are linked by the similar-sized population of the Central Coast LGA which sits between the two cities.
Combined, the three LGAs have a population greater than that of Launceston. We mapped the flows of workers around the region, and showed how integrated the population centres are with their surrounding hinterlands.
We are now assessing the economic strengths and potential growth areas for the region, and will be discussing these with regional leaders in early May. We will then will work with business leaders to shape actions that the CCA will take to drive economic growth in the region.
The CCA’s Manager of Regional Development, Peter Murden, is excited to be partnering with the RAI to better understand and confirm the region’s key strengths and challenges, and identify achievable solutions that will have the greatest impact for the community.
“We want to paint a clear story for investment, the industry advantages for the region and job growth prospects – where are the new and better jobs in the Region going to come from? The aim is to unite around these common themes, and use a collegiate approach to raise public and private investments to address them.The process is as important as the end document; it is about enlisting key people who can make a difference around an evolving and united regional narrative and mindset,” says Mr Murden.
Sign up to our Regional Futures e-News to make sure you stay up to date with the latest news and information.