CHANGE NEEDED: Noosa needs to diversify and grow its economy so we're not over-dependent on tourism.
CHANGE NEEDED: Noosa needs to diversify and grow its economy so we're not over-dependent on tourism. Geoff Potter

Plan to beat land shortage for economic planners

A LACK of land for employment and economic uses, a population 10 years older than the state average, as well as insufficient broadband connectivity are among the weaknesses identified in Noosa's economic future.

These drawbacks came out of feedback to the Noosa Economic Plan partly from, council workshops and a focus group, which also noted a reliance on tourism and an "unfriendly business environment.”

This was offset in the strengths column by Noosa's "strong existing brand”, its tourism and a strong community. Perceived threats were keeping its strong brand, dealing with increasing social inequality and an inability to diversify the economy through high-value activities.

Local complacency was also a concern.

The opportunities include an expanded and diversified tourism sector, developing aged care and retirement living while enhancing local creative industries and digital technologies.

Health and wellness and ITC and professional services were all seen as vital growth areas for the Noosa economy.

"The Noosa Shire Local Economic Plan's aim is to broaden the economic structure of the local economy by achieving growth in smart industry sectors that offer high economic value and low environmental impact,” the adopted plan said.

In particular, the council will try to develop those enterprises that "export outside of the shire and align with our environ- mental and social values.”

"Fundamental to a shift towards a smart economy is the attraction and retention of skilled and talented people, and the development of collaborative institutional alliances and connections,” the plan read.

"Noosa's economy relies significantly on the tourism, retail and construction sectors and is home to approximately 7400 businesses, which are mainly small or micro businesses.

"It is also home to a range of very successful entrepreneurs.”

The plan notes that Noosa's median age is 46 years compared to 38 and 36 years in the south-east Queensland region and the state respectively.

"Three of the top five employment sectors in Noosa are primarily geared towards providing for local residents and tourism- driven industries,” it read.

"They are retail, accommodation and foods services and construction.

"The retail and accommodation and food services sectors also offer the lowest wages, and this, combined with high proportion of part-time work in the region, sees Noosa Shire report a median household income below that of the SEQ region and the state.”

The plan reported Noosa's unemployment rate at 7.3%.

It had a gross domestic product of $2.6billion in 2013-14, which had grown 2.5% per annum in the past five years - above the SEQ region's 2.2% and 2.1% for the state. Noosa Council will adopt an economic action plan to be reviewed annually and updated to "reflect the outcomes of the review.”

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