Population boom fuelling Fraser Coast's growth
A POPULATION boom is fuelling the Fraser Coast's growth with a new report listing the area among Australia's top 10 fastest growing regions.
But the boss of the think tank who wrote the report says turning a growing population into jobs remains the region's challenge.
Regional Australia Institute has predicted the Fraser Coast's compound annual growth rate between 2013 and 2031 will be 3% - above the predicted 2.7% national average growth rate.
Between 2001 and 2013, the Fraser Coast's growth rate was 3.8% - well above the 2.9% national average and among the fastest growing cities in the country.
The report classifies the region as "gaining”, having equalled or outperformed the past and predicted averages.
RAI chief Jack Archer said the Fraser Coast's growth remained "population driven” as it remained an attractive area to move to.
"I think the question the area has to answer is: What is its next evolution?” he said.
"What is the region going to do with all these people? How does it turn a growing population into jobs.”
Hervey Bay Chamber of Commerce president Sandra Holebrook said every new person who moved to the area represented new possibilities for local business.
"We're starting to attract cashed-up retirees from Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. But the main place people move here from is still the Sunshine Coast. Often, not always though, they have some money behind them as well,” she said.
"These people who move here are all potential new customers for local businesses. If people are spending money in local businesses, then that will help the economy and jobs.”
Maryborough Chamber of Commerce president Lance Stone could not be reached for comment.
Fraser Coast Deputy Mayor George Seymour said a growing population presented opportunities and challenges for the region.
"The good news is that the population growth is expected to occur in all age groups, which in turn will lift demand for services such as roads, schools and health, but also for professional services,” he said.
"The bigger population pool attracts national companies to the region which helps create jobs. It also brings more skills to the area which makes it more attractive for companies wanting to get out of the crowded metropolitan areas to set up here.”
Mr Archer said the research showed regional Australia was a vital part of Australia's economic future.
"What we're getting at the moment is people looking at the latest 12 months of data and saying it's all about Sydney and Melbourne,” he said.
"But when you look at the long-term performance it's not the view that really holds up.
"You hear a lot about how regional areas are struggling, but the economic modelling shows over the medium-term they're going to be fine.”
Local government alliance Regional Capitals Australia praised the report and its chair Shane Van Styn said the report showed population size was not the only economic indicator.
"This report is essentially saying cities of all sizes are dynamic - the idea that regional cities are and will continue to be a drag on our economy is clearly fanciful and fiction,” he said.