CEDA report recommends ways to keep WA regional economies strong



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A CEDA report released today provides five key recommendations that will help activate the economic potential of regional Western Australia and ensure a sustainable future for regional communities.

In releasing the report, Regional development in Western Australia, CEDA Chief Executive Professor the Hon. Stephen Martin said its objective was to bridge the gap between the city and the regions and to showcase the plans and opportunities for regional WA as drivers of economic and social development for the State and the nation.

“The report launch and event being held in Perth today is the culmination of the two year CEDA WA State of the Regions series which has included nine regional events across the state drawing more than 1600 attendees and 120 speakers,” he said.

“This series sought to improve understanding of how the WA regions were adapting and transitioning for the future through innovation and best practice principles; how they were capitalising on new business opportunities; and what industry profiles were evolving in response to changing circumstances.

“The report draws together information discussed at each of these events and provides a snapshot of the WA regions, opportunities and barriers to growth and overarching actions to ensure growth in the regions continues.

“The report also includes case studies of businesses in each region that are adapting to change and capitalising on comparative advantages in their region.”

Professor Martin said the five overarching recommendations from the report are:

  • Encourage strong leadership in the Regions by providing local leaders with the opportunity to make and be accountable for their own decisions.
  • Agree on each region’s comparative advantages, with a view to developing region-pacific branding within the wider regional development context.
  • Develop a pipeline of large, transformational investment projects that align with State-wide priorities and each region’s comparative advantages.
  • Strengthen regional investment decisions by introducing a transparent investment prioritisation framework and robust evaluation framework for funding proposals.
  • Create innovation hubs in each region to connect local communities and businesses with government, industry, innovators and financiers.

Professor Martin said infrastructure, including transport, communications, water, health and education, and limited access to financial capital, were identified as major issues in the regions and a framework is needed to attract capital and ensure the regions are investment ready.

“Historically some regions have lacked a clear vision,” he said.

“The Regional Investment Blueprints developed for each region have been a significant step forward but the next step is to now develop economic development strategies that outline implementable actions and to help each region realise its vision.

“Most of Western Australia’s regions punch above their weight, with per capita economic output in the majority of regions higher than in Perth and there has been remarkable growth over the last decade.

“However, the WA economy is undergoing significant change and it is important that focus remains on how to embrace emerging opportunities.

“While the export of resources, in particular iron ore, has been a key driver of the economy, as this slows, the export of agricultural commodities and liquefied natural gas along with tourism are all likely to increase their contribution to the economy in coming years.”

Professor Martin said the report also touches on the impact of global megatrends on the WA regions.

“The digital age removes the tyranny of distance but it also brings challenges as the playing field is levelled and there will need to be a greater focus on competitiveness, productivity and agility to ensure continued economic growth,” he said.

Professor Martin concluded by acknowledging the contribution made by WA Minister for Regional Development; Lands; Minister Assisting the Minister for State Development, the Hon. Terry Redman MLA, to the success of this regional series.  The Minister was an active participant in the discussions around the State.

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