The region’s peak business advocacy organisation, Business Illawarra, has welcomed the NSW State Government’s Illawarra-Shoalhaven Regional Plan 2041 released this week, and has highlighted several key priorities for the business community for specific attention.
“The Regional Plan released this week identifies a raft of priorities that will take our region forward, which is all the more important given our expected population growth and our prominence as a destination for visitors and those relocating during the pandemic,” said Executive Director of Business Illawarra, Adam Zarth.
“Crucially, it identifies some key policy objectives that Business Illawarra has been pursuing for some time, such as the importance of regional transport and in particular rail freight, to the economic potential and growth of Port Kembla and the broader region.”
“While we await the release of the Regional Transport Plan, it is vital that the government prioritise the development of a South West Illawarra Rail Link (SWIRL) to enable the economic potential of transport between Western Sydney and the Illawarra-Shoalhaven and help realise this vision for our region.”
“The proposals to ‘create faster rail connections between Greater Sydney, Wollongong and Nowra’ (Objective 26) and ‘protect major freight networks’ (Objective 27) are laudable but overly vague; particularly given we have built the evidence base for the SWIRL.”
“The Regional Plan also highlights the Illawarra Sports and Entertainment Precinct revitalisation; a key priority for Business Illawarra given the immense opportunity that exists around our stadium and the entertainment centre for a holistic precinct redevelopment.”
“Housing stress is being felt across the Illawarra and Shoalhaven, affecting our members’ ability to attract and employ key workers, so the proposal to establish an ‘Illawarra Shoalhaven Affordable Housing Roundtable’ is a welcome initiative and we are pleased to also note plans to deliver more diverse and affordable housing across the region.”
The Plan also includes a number of other important objectives and actions on which Business Illawarra intends to lead advocacy for regional businesses; including:
- Grow the Port of Port Kembla as an international trade hub (Objective 3)
- Activate regionally significant employment precincts to support new and innovative economic enterprises (Objective 4)
- Collaborate to leverage opportunities from Western Sydney’s growth (Objective 25)
“The Plan represents a sound and sensible blueprint for developing many facets of our increasingly diverse economy. However, now is the time for action as there is a lot of work to be done to get to where we want to go. Business Illawarra will be leading advocacy for the region on key initiatives that will shape our future and we look forward to engaging with the Government and other key stakeholders to make it happen.”