Infrastructure projects to help stimulate local economies are a focus for all levels of government as the country begins to consider recovery from the impacts of COVID-19.
A request from Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack for all local councils to provide a list of transport projects that could help strengthen the economy and drive job creation highlighted the benefits that such schemes can bring to local prosperity and wellbeing.
Coffs Harbour City Council has provided a list of 16 candidate transport projects worth a combined $91.9m to his office for their consideration.
“But the opportunities open to us to pursue post-pandemic recovery strategies are not just limited to road-related options,” said Steve McGrath, Council’s General Manager. “We have a number of projects ready to move across our local government area such as the Northern Beaches Multi-purpose Centre, the Regional Sports Hub and, of course, the Cultural and Civic Space.
“The Cultural and Civic Space has been identified as crucial to the region’s recovery in terms of providing construction and operating jobs, plus economic stimulus in terms of helping rebuild tourism and assisting in the attraction of new residents and inward investment further down the line.”
The design and construction phase (2020-2023) is expected to generate an estimated 358 new local jobs out of a total of 555 direct and flow-on jobs. Overall, once the building is operational, around 31 ongoing jobs are expected to be generated by the project. This extra economic activity is forecast to translate into $2 million per year Gross Regional Product for the Coffs Harbour area.
Increased visitation to the region is another benefit that the Cultural and Civic Space, Northern Beaches Multi-purpose Centre and the Regional Sports Hub are expected to provide.
Major touring art exhibitions such as the ‘The Archibald’ are a good example. When that show was at the Tweed Regional Gallery, it generated 26,000 visitors over a seven-week period, and the economic impact of the Grace Kelly exhibition on the Bendigo economy was estimated to be $16.3 million. It is estimated that a growth in cultural tourism due to improved cultural facilities will be worth around $1.8 million per year locally.
Studies have also shown that facilities such as art galleries are important contributors to regional growth through their influence on increasing the attraction of the region as a place to live and do business. Major urban renewal projects also have a stimulus effect as they generate new investment by existing businesses in the same area.
Finally, the project will directly result in productivity gains for the Council itself which are forecast to be $300,000 a year by housing all office staff into a single building.