THE Baird government’s plan to create one million jobs in NSW in the next 20 years is an opportunity too good to miss out on for the Hunter.
That was the message at a briefing of business leaders and politicians by new Jobs for NSW chief executive Karen Borg in Lake Macquarie on Friday.
The Jobs for NSW plan, released in August, is a $190 million fund aimed at encouraging growth in 12 sectors including tourism, agriculture and international education.
On Friday Ms Borg told the gathering that the fund – which aims at providing the private sector public support through a mix of loans, grants and guarantees – was a chance for the Hunter to broaden its economic diversity.
“Newcastle has, in many ways, this wonderful opportunity because it sits between the regional and metropolitan space,” she said.
“There are actually opportunities in sectors like Ag-tech that you wouldn’t get in Sydney.”
Regional jobs figures released this week showed the Hunter added 13,400 jobs in the 12 months to August, a 4.6 per cent year on year increase.
In parliament this week the Premier, Mike Baird, said it was proof the government’s investments in the region were paying dividends.
“The $1.5 billion worth of road projects across the Hunter are delivering more jobs,” he said.
“[And] we are investing $448 million in Hunter health services … we are continuing to invest in the John Hunter, Maitland, Muswellbrook and Singleton hospitals redevelopments.”
On Friday the government’s Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter, Scot MacDonald, said Jobs for NSW gave the Hunter a chance to take advantage of its “transforming economy”.
“If you’ve been looking at the figures certainly we’ve gone through a very difficult period with mining [but] it’s emblematic of the changes this region is going to go through,” he said.
“Traditional economies are very important and I think they’re going to be very important for a long time to come [but] the world is moving very, very quickly.”