Clarence economy on the rise with 13.1% growth
THE Clarence Valley is the only North Coast region to experience positive growth in the past financial year.
Figures in the Clarence Valley Council's Economic Monitor show in 2014-15 the Clarence's gross regional product (GRP) was $2.6billion, representing a 13.1% annual growth rate.
Council has invested very heavily to ensure we have a stable water supply, an adequate sewerage network and rezoned parcels of land in all the growth areas. These are the three elements for sustained growth and it's now starting to pay dividends.
The research by Lawrence Consulting for the council showed shrinking economies for all regions to the Valley's north, with Lismore and Byron Bay the next best with -7.5% and -7.9%. Kyogle and Richmond Valley's GRP figures were -14.3%.
Other positive figures include showing 1513 more people were employed during the year, a growth of 7.3% and the unemployment rate fell to 6.8%, which is lower than the North Coast rate of 9.8%.
Housing approvals increased by 58.7% and non-residential approvals by 498% to $30.2million.
Clarence Valley Mayor Richie Williamson said as good as the figures were, they were only going to get better once highway construction begins in earnest.
"The figures we've released today are a snapshot of 2014-15 when the highway was in the planning phase," he said.
"Construction has only just begun, so I believe there is more good news on the way."
The mayor said the growth in these figures reflected growth in other areas, including agriculture, which he said could be on the verge of a golden age.
"It's important the value of agriculture not be undersold," he said.
"I was talking to stock and station agent Ray Donovan about the recent store cattle sale at Grafton. He said local cattlemen had never seen prices like that before."
Cr Williamson said the local sugar industry had just experienced its best growing season and fruit orchards were becoming an important sector of the industry. "I've no doubt many of those jobs created were in the agriculture sector," he said.
The mayor said the council had planned for this time by making sure infrastructure was in place.
"Council has invested very heavily to ensure we have a stable water supply, an adequate sewerage network and rezoned parcels of land in all the growth areas.
"These are the three elements for sustained growth and it's now starting to pay dividends."
Cr Williamson said population growth had been sluggish, but predicted this would grow in the coming years as improved infrastructure made the region more attractive.
"With a good road to the north, the Clarence is going to be a very attractive place to move to from South East Queensland," he said.