The Illawarra Business Chamber is calling for a greater focus on regional development to power the New South Wales and Australian economy.

The Illawarra led by example in 2016 and created 11,400 new jobs.  The year also saw a record number of new dwellings built in the region with 3,605 new houses/units constructed.

Illawarra Business Chamber Executive Director, Chris Lamont, said it is important all levels of governments seize the potential of regional Australia to drive state and national productivity. The Illawarra is getting on with the job providing thousands of new employment opportunities and offering business a lower cost base and more competitive operating environment.

To drive continued economic development the Illawarra Business Chamber has assembled the 2017 Priority List to be used in local, state and federal advocacy. The key priorities include:

1. Investment in inter/intra-region road and rail infrastructure 
Enhanced transport connectivity will boost productivity, reduce freight costs, improve safety, reduce congestion and maximise the potential of Port Kembla. 
 
2. Decentralisation of state and federal government administration
Reduced cost of living for employees, lifestyle and reduced operating costs for government agencies makes the Illawarra an ideal location for decentralised operations.
 
3. More opportunities for local businesses to deliver government projects and initiatives
Greater focus on local procurement and content to deliver NSW Government programs and services.
 
4. Investment in regional health care and support services
To maintain quality health care for the region’s growing population it is essential that health infrastructure across the region be upgraded.
 
5. Education and Research
Expanded and innovative trades training opportunities and investment in advanced research to provide more youth employment opportunities and build on the competitive advantages of the region.
 
6. Infrastructure to support growth of tourism/business events
Growing popularity of the region as a sought after tourist destination including business events requires a substantial investment to support growth and to build capacity.

“The creation of productive regional centres can provide the next economic boom for the country, however, it is important that there is a commitment to decentralisation and that governments invest outside major city centres.  The priorities as listed above if delivered will drive jobs growth and development across the region for decades to come,” said Chris Lamont.
The creation of productive regional centres can provide the next economic boom for the country. Chris Lamont, Executive Director Illawarra First