The economic future of Victoria's regions

Author: Somma Sourivong - General Manager Victoria, Joel Taylor - General Manager Business Development, Sam Foster - Analyst Macroplan looks at the economic future for Victoria’s regions and the future is bright!

By now you’ve probably read that Melbourne's population is growing at a record pace, adding some 100,000 new residents every year.  The ABS now reports that Melbourne is growing faster than any Australian city ever, exceeding even the European post-war population boom some 50 years ago.

Economists and planners have rushed to embrace a Melbourne-centric narrative, spruiking the ‘engine room’ economy but an interesting story not often told is the extra 15,000+ people settling in regional towns and cities within commuting distance of major urban centres.  As usual, MacroPlan isn’t far away from the cutting edge – and we’ve got our finger on the pulse of the underlying regional growth narrative that’s gone missing in the mainstream media.  It’s a sign of the times that our Victorian General Manager and Planning Manager both commute daily from sunny Ballarat, which proves the point that the relationship between our regional cities and our state capital in Melbourne is changing.

Whilst Melbourne was the fastest-growing city last year, Geelong followed closely.  Ballarat, Bendigo and Albury-Wodonga all made the top 10.  It's an interesting dynamic as many residents have less association with the Melbourne CBD, given growth in suburban centres and employment clusters coupled with improved housing affordability and lifestyle offerings in Victoria’s regional cities.  State planning policies such as Plan Melbourne Refresh and the Regional Growth Plans encapsulates regional population growth as a core pillar of Victoria’s future economic growth, and recognises the capacity of our regional centres to contribute and benefit from Victoria’s ongoing shift towards knowledge-based sectors – and the residential property sector is starting to switch on too.


Regional Population Growth in Victoria: 2006 - 2016

Top 30 Regional SA2's in Victoria




To support this growth and core policy pillars, the Victorian State Government has committed funding to support regional growth through the Streamlining for Growth Program, which is $16 million fund managed by the Victorian Planning Authority (VPA). The Streamlining for Growth Program is targeted funding to assist in the strategic planning system and speed up the delivery of projects that provide employment growth and/or increased housing choice, diversity and affordability.

No towns want to miss out on this opportunity, which has kept our team of economists, planners and project manager’s quite busy lately in devising strategies to capture, manage and deliver regional investment and growth.

Our projects are reaching far and wide to towns such as Yarrawonga, Mildura, Portland, Harcourt and Gippsland – all major rural regions experiencing diverse changes in economic structure and employment, but which are also well supported by a unique and diverse natural environments and a value-for-money residential property sector that aggressively challenges prices in Melbourne metropolitan growth areas.  It’s no accident that regional towns and cities with rail connections to Melbourne are looking more attractive – especially when residents of growth areas in Wyndham, Casey and Whittlesea already face between 1 to 1.5 hour daily commutes via the congested metropolitan rail network.

MacroPlan is keeping busy exploring catalyst projects – both private and public – to unlock investment and new economic opportunities within Victoria’s growing regions.  With major market demand for sectors and uses including conventions, tourism, advanced agriculture, services and knowledge-based economies and the booming health and education sectors, we’re excited by the rapid growth in opportunities that comes from changing economic circumstances.   Economic challenges provide valuable opportunities to adapt, innovate and enhance our rural towns and regions to compete in a globalized, hyper-competitive world while leveraging Victoria’s world-leading agricultural and manufacturing base.  The more we explore our regions, the more we feel a real difference can be made for the state.

If you would like to discuss opportunities to unlock your development potential in regional Victoria or Melbourne please contact Somma Sourivong, General Manager of Victoria.