What will it take to make Northern Tasmania the most liveable and innovative region in Australia - even the world - by 2031?
According to a draft strategy from the Northern Tasmania Development Corporation, there are six strategic priorities needed to improve the region's economic outcomes: increasing exports; population growth; innovation; investment; infrastructure; and participation and productivity.
Released on Tuesday, the Regional Economic Development Strategy sets out an ambitious vision for the north and identifies where future economic growth and employment is likely to come from.
A commitment of the Launceston City Deal, the RED strategy builds on the Northern Regional Futures Plan developed by NTDC's predecessor in 2016.
Following regional consultation with more than 100 businesses and stakeholders, the draft strategy was formed.
The draft RED strategy can be viewed at ntdc.org.au and is open for public comment until October 22 via email@example.com.
According to the strategy, export growth will reduce Tasmania's dependency on the government and enable an "increasingly prosperous and self-reliant regional economy".
The aspirational target is to increase exports by 45 per cent from current levels over the life of the strategy. It says this increase is necessary to significantly reduce the $1.4 billion a year gap between the region's exports and imports.
The strategy identifies five major export opportunities for Northern Tasmania: food systems; education; tourism; competitive manufacturing; an professional, scientific and technical services.
Areas of priority include leveraging the work of Tourism Tasmania and Tourism Northern Tasmania to attract higher-value visitors; working with UTAS, TasTAFE and other institutions to attract and retain more international and interstate students; and promoting professional, scientific and technical services to locate in Northern Tasmania.
The strategy outlines that by 2031, the Northern Tasmanian region will require about 10,000 additional workers to meet the needs of a growing economy.
Considering Tasmania's ageing population and the loss of an estimated 5000 skilled workers as a result, "the focus for population attraction is working age people with the right skills set to meet demand from industry".
Tasmania's top growing job opportunities for the medium to longer term in order of priority to 2031 are identified to be primarily in the services sectors, and are: hospital, medical, aged-care and social services; education; food and beverage service; professional, scientific and technical services; public administration; food product manufacturing; and personal services.
According to the strategy, there is an appetite in the region to access and use more technology to achieve regional potential. "Innovation is necessary to achieve a higher value economy with more, higher paying jobs".
It points to innovation examples that already exists in the north, including Macquarie House; UTAS Launceston Institute of Applied Science and Design; and the development of the National Defence Innovation and Design Precinct at the Australian Maritime College.
Key priority areas include enhancing skills such as digital literacy and cyber security; building a regional innovation ecosystem to support business; and utlising defence research.
The strategy sets out the regional target to increase public and private investment by an additional 40 per cent by 2031 - equating to an additional $500 million each years. About two thirds of investment is expected to come from and through the private sector.
An investment taskforce, established by NTDC, aims to develop and implement a "workable plan to attract additional capital for private sector support with a particular focus on smaller projects and proponents that are not supported by current programs".
Key priority areas include advocating at a regional level for investment in priority public infrastructure projects; developing and promoting the priority infrastructure list for Northern Tasmania; and optimising the Northern Prison investment opportunity to boost economic growth.
According to the strategy, "high quality infrastructure provides opportunities to attract investment and connect regional businesses to the rest of the state, nation and a growing global marketplace".
Infrastructure that will enable the north to succeed should include: placemaking infrastructure, such as amenities and public transport; Information Communication Technology; enabling new industries and new business models; and improved road, rail and air connections to uniquely place Launceston as a freight hub - allowing access to overseas markets within 24 hours. It says the north has a technological advantage as one of only a few regions in Australia able to "fully participate in the growing worldwide gigabit economy due to the availability of NBN fibre".
Participation and productivity
The strategy aims to ensure the region's economic growth is inclusive and sustainable, and the benefits are shared widely. However, is also recognises the impact Tasmania's poor educational attainment and health outcomes have on the state's overall economic output.
With a focus on the region's strong sense of community, the strategy points to four priority areas: supporting programs to strengthen transitions to vocational training or higher education linked to the workforce; advocating for trials and pathways for disadvantaged cohorts; collaboration on relevant education and health programs; and enabling the transition of businesses into new growth industries.