Public comment on draft Economic Development Strategy deferred

Economic Development Strategy

Council has voted to defer public comment on a draft Economic Development Strategy.

Mayor Lisa Matthews said it was crucial that the community have its say on both the Local Strategic Planning Statement (see separate story) and the Economic Development Strategy.

“We are in the middle of a significant pandemic, and both of these documents will shape the future of our region,” she said.
“We also don’t yet know what the outcomes will be for the local economy and we will continue to monitor the needs of our business community and adapt to the challenges which emerge.”

The economic development strategy is a 20-year plan to drive the creation of jobs for residents and stimulate the overall economy.
The region has been operating without an overarching strategy to prioritise actions and align the efforts of the multitude of stakeholders involved.

In December, 2018, Council engaged a wide range of external stakeholders to assist in developing the Coast’s first Economic Development Strategy.
Consultation and collaboration was broad, including key stakeholders within the greater region and residents.

Feedback received during the consultation phase formed the basis of the strategy and provided clear direction on where the Central Coast should steer its local economy.

The report noted that unemployment rates were higher than State and National averages, specifically, youth and senior citizen unemployment and underemployment rates were high due to inadequate experience, skills/qualifications, or transport options.
Job growth had not kept pace with the increase in the population over the past 20 years.

The report said that as a result, a sizeable proportion of the local labour force commuted to work outside of the local government area on a daily basis to Sydney, Newcastle, and beyond.
“This also means the loss of spin-off employment opportunities that would normally occur due to the multiplier effect, affecting a wide range of service sectors,” the report stated.
“As economic development services are provided by several different agencies, a more coordinated approach is required to create synergies and better outcomes for Central Coast businesses and residents.
“The nature of employment is changing rapidly.
“Education and training will need to meet future demands of these emerging sectors for the Central Coast region to thrive.”

By 2040, the Central Coast will welcome nearly 88,000 new residents, grow the economy by over $21B and create more than 72,000 new jobs.

The draft was ready for public exhibition but was deferred at the March 23 extraordinary meeting.

Extraordinary Meeting, Mar 23
Agenda item 3.2
Central Coast Council
Reporter: Merilyn Vale