If 2018 was about building business confidence in Northern Tasmania, 2019 will be about building the infrastructure to encourage more people to live and work in the region.
Projects – like new hotels, City Heart and the university’s move to Inveresk – provide places for new and existing residents to work, live or stay when visiting.
Work on beautifying Launceston’s CBD and associated precincts is also continuing, making the experience of living and working in the region even more attractive.
Population growth needed
The city’s population taskforce, which is chaired by City of Launceston, has drafted a strategy to attract more people to the region, including highlighting the benefits of living here and jobs available.
Northern Tasmania Development Corporation chief executive Maree Tetlow said those considering moving to Tasmania needed to know they could maintain the same lifestyle.
“People won’t consider a move for a job if they can’t see a job that will allow them to continue to sustain their lifestyle. It’s about exposing the jobs that are here,” Ms Telow said.
There are a number of strong sectors where jobs are, or will become, available within Northern Tasmania, which include agriculture, food processing, construction, transport and health/aged care.
“Hopefully we’ll come to a point where there are centres for excellence around our regional strengths,” she said.
“[We need to ask] what do we want to be famous for, and how do we move forward from where we are now?”
While we might have the knowledge in these sectors, Northern Tasmania’s population is not going to be enough to support its aspirations.
Attracting new residents
Launceston Chamber of Commerce executive officer Neil Grose said there was already a shift around jobs happening, and it would continue if we did not attract more workers.
“Probably for the first time in a long time in Launceston we’re going to have more jobs than people to fill them,” Mr Grose said.
“The federal government … predicts Launceston will have a deficit of about 12,000 jobs, where those jobs will exist, but we won’t have people to fill them.
“The real challenge for Launceston is population … There needs to be a real shift in how we market Launceston in what we do to get people to stay here and move here,” he said.
Cityprom executive officer Steve Henty believes people create vibrancy in a city, and inviting more people into Launceston’s CBD would make it thrive.
“The major things that will have big impacts on the CBD are the number of people who work in the city,” Mr Henty said.
“We’re seeing a growth of people who are living in the city and that’s important.”
City residents look for the same qualities in their area as those who live in the suburbs, however it is not necessary for those to be on their property.
“People will go where they feel comfortable. They will want to be able to do things like walk their dog, go running, feel safe in their environment. They’re not mutually exclusive when it comes to living, or working in, or visiting the CBD,” Mr Henty said.
Community is vital as it feeds into creating those spaces where people feel comfortable, but also encourages them to keep coming back because they feel they belong.
“One of Launceston’s strengths is that we do have a sense of community and there is a sense of knowing the people you shop with,” Mr Henty said.
“The shops that are going to be successful are the ones who are building a community and driving people into their establishment because they offer something outside a retail experience. The customer experience is beyond the transaction – it starts well before and continues well after,” he said.
Another way to keep the city’s vibrancy alive is to identifying more precincts and leveraging the sense of community around them, such as George Street and Kingsway, with individual precinct personalities and services like parklets.
“We’re working with businesses on that, using basic principles of placemaking and wayfinding so people know where the things are and they feel part of the city,” Mr Henty said.
Already recognised as one of the nation’s top entrepreneurial hotspots, Launceston has become home to many ‘Lifestylepreneurs’, as demographer Bernard Salt calls the career-minded Tasmanians who built a successful career on the mainland and then move back.
Businesses, such as Definium, and service providers, like Enterprize, are taking advantage of Launceston’s natural IT advantage to help grow the sector.
“We’re the first city in Australia to be fully connected with NBN. All the framework is there to really drive it forward; we’ve just got to attract those industries and entrepreneurs,” Mr Grose said.
“We’ve got all the bricks sitting here in Launceston, we’ve just got to start sticking them all together.”
This year’s federal election should be seen as a further opportunity that could prove pivotal for Tasmanian fortunes and “we should be lobbying our heads off”, Mr Grose said.
Health is one of the areas to focus on, particularly around Calvary Health’s plan to build a private hospital next the Launceston General Hospital.
“Health is our key problem, but it’s also our key opportunity,” Mr Grose said.
Co-located hospitals could be the impetus for co-locating other services, such as medical research with the University of Tasmania and a specialist health hub.
“Launceston has the potential to be a centre for excellence for the provision of regional health. Here’s the opportunity to think big picture for Launceston,” he said.
While you’re with us, did you know you can now sign up to receive breaking news updates direct to your inbox? Sign up here.