Tweed: Boom or bust

By LEONIE BRANN

THE Tweed is set to boom in the next decade but an expert says we have to be careful it doesn't burst.

Preliminary figures released by the Tweed Economic Development Corporation as part of a report that will attempt to map the economic future of the Tweed, show the district's population will top 115,000 people by 2016.

That is an increase of 55 per cent or a growth of 41,000 residents compared to 2001 statistics.

The concern however is that with that growth will come the need for an estimated 13,000 more jobs ? a 71 per cent increase over the existing level of employment.

Planning is critical, TEDC chief executive officer Tom Senti said yesterday.

If we don't plan for the growth and find new employment and business opportunities to provide jobs, the district will suffer financially, he said.

"The Tweed is experiencing rapid population growth, and we need to balance that growth with economic growth.

"Population growth does not drive a sustainable economy ? the Gold Coast found that out, and we can learn from their mistakes and triumphs."

He said the Gold Coast/Tweed Aviation Transport Hub report released earlier this year showed the Tweed is part of the largest urban growth area in Australia.

The region from Robina to the Tweed can expect a population increase of 49 per cent by 2016, boosting the cross-border population to more than 255,700 people.

"We need to know our businesses before we grow them," Mr Senti said.

"We need to look at the big picture and not manage the local economy in an ad hoc way.

He said modelling undertaken by the TEDC would look at the economic impact of each industry and its value to the local economy and the jobs it has created.

"For example, tourism is a growth industry in this area,'' he said. ''But that industry will only be able to provide part of the 13,000 jobs.

''That is why we need to diversify the economic base of the district and create new enterprise and employment opportunities, to create a sustainable economic future for the Tweed.



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