Silver lining for Gladstone as projects wind down
IT'S the health check more than 40 small business owners were eager to hear - how is the Gladstone economy faring?
According to the Bank of Queensland's chief economist Peter Munckton: "People think anything north of the Sunshine Coast is just mining and tourism."
"But this is more than a one trick place and that's a good thing."
Mr Munckton said there was no doubt that as the mining projects wind-down, and some of the negative impacts were starting to be felt now.
But, he said, there was a silver lining.
"Australia was creating $90 million dollars in 2012, it's down to $60 million this year. That's $30 million of work missing. Where do we make that up?" he said.
"The fact that Gladstone is actually thinking about other opportunities like tourism combined with lower rates and lower oil prices should be leaving people with more money in their pocket.
"That's the message that needs to get out. We need to become more diverse."
At a business get-together in Gladstone at the beginning of the week, Mr Munckton exposed a range of facts about the city - from real estate, to employment and population prediction.
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"In 2036, 110,000 people are expected to live in Gladstone," he said.
"I have no doubt that a better CBD hub will occur. If the numbers are right the residents won't want to go to bed at 8pm so we will get that greater diversification," he said.
Despite the unemployment woes expressed by locals Mr Munckton said the figures did look positive.
"Gladstone's unemployment rate from December 2010 to December 2013 went from 11.8% to 5.1% which is marked improvement," he said.
"This should continue to decrease with the continued work surrounding the percentage of exports from our port at 23%, in close relation to Brisbane's at 27%."
Mr Munckton also identified areas of opportunities and challenges.
"Our growth businesses are construction and finance and our worst is transport," he said.
"Within that, Gladstone's proportion works by industry is 17% in manufacturing and 14% construction.
"Anything outside mining won't be invested in when the budget is delivered in eight weeks time which is will be a challenge for retail nationally and locally but we'll have to wait and see."