Launched in February 2012 by Lord Mayor Graham Quirk, Brisbane’s Economic Development Plan (2012-2031) contains the priorities and actions required to support Brisbane’s economic development over the next twenty years.
Over the past twenty years, Brisbane has made a transition from being a mid-performing, regionally-oriented economy, into a vibrant, regenerated city with a strong forward vision committed to an internationally competitive growth path. The capital of Queensland, the city’s GDP growth far exceeded the national average during the early 1990s due to a mining and energy boom which led to a decline in commercial vacancies and a surge in new construction projects. Although exposure to global conditions led to fairly severe contractions in 1996, 2001 and 2008, the resource boom has generated consistent population growth and enabled unprecedented infrastructure spending. The latter accelerated the completion of key projects such as the Go Between Bridge and the CLEM7 tunnel, which in turn have boosted Brisbane’s competitive offer.
While commodities have driven much of the city’s economic growth and investment revenue capacity, manufacturing’s share of the Brisbane economy has gradually fallen from 18% in 1990 to 10% in 2011. The gap has been mostly filled by a growth in financial, insurance and professional services supporting the mining sector. The emergence of a Brisbane-based mining equipment and services cluster has also taken place, facilitated by the availability of high quality industrial land, transport links and port logistics. The further growth of all services is a key target of the city in the next decade.
An opportunity for Brisbane
The Brisbane Economic Development Plan is a direct response to the recommendations made by the Lord Mayor’s Economic Development Steering Committee, who, after extensive consultation with over 200 businesses, delivered their recommendations in the Brisbane’s Unique Window of Opportunity report; a report which highlighted the huge window of opportunity available to Brisbane.
The last two decades of strong population and economic growth have contributed to Brisbane’s economy reaching $114 billion (2011 Gross Regional Product), accounting for 46% of the Queensland economy. Much of this growth has been as a result of the success of the resources sector. If Brisbane is able to meet the continually growing demand, it is anticipated that the economy could grow to $217 billion by 2031, making Brisbane one of the world’s most prosperous cities. The Brisbane Economic Development Plan is the Council’s way of ensuring that the city fulfils this potential.
“In 2031, Brisbane is regarded as a top ten lifestyle city and global hub for resource and related service industry businesses. Its high performing economy is known for its strong business and cultural links with Asia.”
The Plan forecasts the creation of over 340,000 jobs up to 2021, the majority of which are expected to be in professional services and management positions serving the resource sector. In order to achieve this growth, two key elements of the Plan stand out:
- The attraction of more business visitors. This entails a clear ambition to increase the number of major conventions taking place in Brisbane, and an events strategy that has seen success for the city at attracting film, fashion and performing arts festivals. As part of this initiative Brisbane’s Mayor is now spearheading a new winter campaign of cultural and sporting events that aims to inject more than AUD50m (€40m) into the economy in 2012.
- The expansion of firms from the international resource industry. This is to be achieved through an outreach programme to Asia as well as building up local capabilities. China presently accounts for a third of foreign investment into the city, with Malaysian and Japanese investors also feature heavily. These markets are to be developed further.
Achieving the vision
Brisbane’s Economic Development plan is being delivered jointly by the Council and Brisbane Marketing, the Council’s economic development agency. The Plan presents a framework of actions which will be delivered in order to realise the city’s vision. These actions fall under the achievement of five key objectives.
1. Global reputation: Brisbane, Australia’s New World City
While Brisbane is well regarded by residents and visitors, those who have not visited Brisbane remain unaware of what the city offers. In order to grow the economy, increase tourism, attract new investment, and attract talented workers, Brisbane must enhance its global reputation.
The city intends to achieve this objective through the following actions: A three year programme targeting investment and business opportunities; implementing a business meetings and conventions strategy; encouraging increased airline routes and connections into Brisbane; implementing a major events strategy to build a calendar of future events; and creating marketing collateral tailored to Asian-Pacific markets for use by partners and stakeholders.
2. Productive Brisbane
Creating a productive Brisbane will allow the city to best capitalise on the opportunities created by the resource boom, as well as improve connections with Asia, the fastest growing and largest regional economy in the world.
The Plan outlines that the city will achieve this through: Targeting resource and related service industry companies to move to Brisbane; linking with overseas agencies and governments to develop business opportunities in Asia, with special focus on opportunities in China and Brisbane’s Sister Cities; Using Brisbane’s global networks to expand trade and investment; appointing a Chief Digital Officer to champion a new digital strategy for Brisbane; extending wi-fi services throughout the city; using Council procurement opportunities to attract investment and to grow local business capacity; and facilitating innovation and support the growth of new businesses.
3. Talent attraction and global connections
Brisbane’s highly skilled labour force is a major attraction for business and industry. The city must act to ensure that the most talented individuals continue to be attracted to Brisbane.
The Plan underlines that this will be achieved through: Coordinating and facilitating measures to support fly-in fly-out workforce needs for the resource industry; launching a global workforce talent attraction programme; promoting and facilitating secondment programmes between companies and participate in staff exchanges with businesses where a benefit is identified; establishing a global Brisbane ambassadors and alumni project; developing internships and pathways to employment for students in occupations where skills shortages exist; and leveraging target markets in Asia to increase international student intake.
4. Lifestyle city
Brisbane’s Economic Development Plan highlights the growing importance that a city’s lifestyle plays in creating a destination where people want to live and work. Talented people are attracted to cities which have a high quality of life and lifestyle offering.
The city intends to achieve this objective through: Increasing commercial, recreation and tourism opportunities focusing on the Brisbane River; establishing a ‘Brisbane Greeters’ programme offering free orientation tours to tourists and visitors; developing a cultural policy incorporating regulations, investment principles, cultural offerings, entrepreneurship and local artist facilitation; activating music and night time precincts; extending the Council’s social activation programmes to international students, new visitors and migrants by distributing information through appropriate networks; facilitating the building of developments that enhance Brisbane’s attractiveness and identity; and introducing foreign language signage to facilitate visitor movement in key precincts.
5. Leadership, engagement and implementation
To successfully drive Brisbane’s long term economic prosperity, the Council must ensure that all relevant stakeholders cooperate effectively.
The city intends to achieve this through: Establishing the Brisbane Business Network; implementing the Brisbane Business Hotline; continuing the annual Brisbane Business Survey; continuing to recognise business through the Lord Mayor’s Business Awards; continuing the innovation scorecard and recognition of leading innovators in business; Industry/Council/Brisbane Marketing/education institutions secondments; and publishing a quarterly newsletter reporting on the Brisbane economy.
Image credit : Photobank gallery