One year on from the initial COVID19 restrictions and a snapshot of our economy shows the remarkable resilience of private enterprise. Most businesses in our region have returned to normal or close to normal operations and many are reporting better trading conditions than previously. The indicators are that this is being driven by a real estate boom coupled with lifestyle purchases such as home renovations, new cars and caravans.
A reported drop in unemployment to 5.8% nationally is backed by a recent report citing some 60,000 job vacancies across NSW. The report by Roy Morgan Market Research details that the jobs by sector include 6300 in trades and construction, 5700 in information/communications and some 5680 in the health industry. This is certainly good news for job seekers with qualifications and skills matching those sectors.
There remains a reported shortage of semi-skilled labour in the hospitality and tourism industry for those business trying to meet higher demands since COVD restrictions eased. The end of Job Keeper last month should address this in part by removing the unintended labour market distortion caused by the scheme which has been generally hailed as having saved our economy nationally.
The Fernbank and Sancrox Structure Plan for a new release area which will provide a supply of up to 3000 residential lots was endorsed at the last Council meeting for exhibition mid year. This area includes land at Fernbank Creek Road, Oxley Highway, Billabong/Bushlands Drive, Sancrox Road and Rawdon Island Road. This is a long term strategic planning project by Council which is critical to ensuring future land supply is made available for commercial, industrial, residential and recreational uses whilst protecting environmental corridors.
The supply of land to market via an orderly strategic planning process is an important aspect of ensuring such land is available for development in a range of zones, product classes and by as many owners as possible. A free market with good supply and choice will ultimately lead to better outcomes for housing affordability and cost of living. The Fernbank and Sancrox precinct represents one of the very few long term future growth areas available to Council and is therefore quite strategically important for employment and housing growth over the next twenty years.
Last month Council also adopted a resolution to prepare an “Integrated Strategic Road Network Masterplan” and work in partnership with NSW State Government on prioritising the delivery of such infrastructure. The author of the Notice of Motion, Councillor Hawkins, is to be commended for this initiative where Council has now formally moved to recognise Port Macquarie’s substantial and ongoing growth and the need to address a backlog of major road upgrades in close cooperation with the NSW State Government.
Chamber Executive have also recently met with the new General Manager, Dr Clare Allen, and had productive discussions around the future needs of the local business community. Key road and services infrastructure projects required to meet the ongoing growth of Port Macquarie was noted as the priority from a business perspective. Dr Allen has also indicated a strong desire to engage with the business community and provide updates on key projects at a networking event later this year.