The Illawarra Business Chamber (IBC) has today released a policy paper outlining its ideas for improving economic development outcomes in the region.
“With the economy showing early signs of recovery, the IBC have put together a three (3) step plan, focusing on jobs growth & business attraction to address economic development in Wollongong. Said Greg Fisher, CEO of the IBC.
“Firstly, we need a more co-ordinated effort to support those government agencies that are already working in this area, such as Industry and Investment NSW and the Regional Employment Co-ordinator.
Secondly, the IBC is urging Wollongong City Council to take a more active role in economic development.
“We acknowledge that the Council recently appointed a City Centre Place Manger and we welcome this decision. But this role is CBD-focused and does not address business attraction strategies outside the area.
“The Federal Government is increasingly becoming involved in funding local government delivered projects but we are concerned that without a dedicated person focused on seeking out funding opportunities, some projects will miss out,” said Mr Fisher.
Finally, we believe the city needs a dedicated economic development unit that undertakes;
- Investment and jobs attraction to Wollongong – promoting the city across the state and nation as a place to do business
- Be a one-stop shop for businesses to find out about government programs/projects/assistance and help them complete the necessary applications
- Co-ordinate city-wide applications for major government funding for economic development related programs (eg Jobs Fund)
- Assist businesses making major investments in the city navigate through Council’s planning and development system as efficiently as possible and within a transparent framework.
- Undertake research to support economic development initiatives in Wollongong.
“There are a number of models available for such a unit. We believe a partnership between business and local government would be the best way forward, but we will be talking to other stakeholders about their thoughts on how to take this forward,” said Mr Fisher.
“We are pleased with the initial reception we have had from recent discussions with Wollongong City Council about our ideas. We look forward to continuing to work with them to maximise the job creation potential of Wollongong,” concluded Mr Fisher.