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Exploring economic growth in North Queensland

When it comes to picturesque landscapes, vibrant communities, and boundless economic opportunities, North Queensland stands out as a region of immense potential.

Encompassing cities like Townsville, Cairns, and Mackay, North Queensland has experienced steady population growth over the years. This expansion can be attributed to a combination of factors highlighting its unique appeal.

From the iconic natural wonders and stunning coastal landscapes, to the enviable climate and relaxed lifestyle – the allure of these attractions draws both domestic and international tourists. It also entices people to make North Queensland their permanent home.

Boasting a population of 239,859 in 2021, this figure is projected to experience a notable increase, with a projection of 324,317 residents by the year 2041. This growth trajectory underscores the region’s appeal and its promising outlook for the future.

The rise to prosperity

North Queensland has five major regional centres – namely Burdekin, Charters Towers, Hinchinbrook, Palm Island, and Townsville. This dynamic region plays a pivotal role in the state’s economy, contributing an impressive annual sum of over $17.1 billion.

Strategically positioned at the crossroads of rail, road, sea, and air transport networks, North Queensland serves as a vital gateway for the movement of goods and services, facilitating an annual export value exceeding $13.7 billion, both domestically and internationally. 

The leading five industries which contribute a total of $34.37 billion include:

  • Public administration and safety (comprising defence, public order, safety, and regulatory services)
  • Manufacturing
  • Construction
  • Rental, hiring, and real estate services
  • Health care and social assistance

Investing in North Queensland’s future

In addition to its strong pipeline of projects, Queensland is also set to be the proud host of the 2032 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games. This monumental event will be supported by a substantial $4.5 billion investment, jointly funded by the Queensland and Australian governments. These funds will be allocated towards the construction of essential sports venues and necessary infrastructure projects spanning the entirety of the state, including Townsville.

According to the recently published Townsville North Queensland Strategic Regional Industry Growth Plan, there are three main opportunities for this region:

  • Hosting international teams (pre-games training): Due to its prime position, the Cowboys Community, Training and High-Performance Centre provides services to enable pre-games training based on Olympic standards.
  • Upgrading local sporting facilities: Upgrades to these venues will elevate North Queensland’s influence on the Games. Not only will this investment offer local support groups and professional clubs access to top-tier facilities, but it also establishes a lasting legacy for regional Queensland beyond the Games’ conclusion.
  • Hosting preliminary events: The recently completed Queensland Country Bank Stadium, boasting 25,000 seats, positions the city to successfully host preliminary sporting events during the 2032 Olympics, including football and rugby matches. While Townsville is slated to welcome preliminary and quarter-final football matches, the region’s versatile facilities also make it a suitable host for various other events in North Queensland during the games.

A northern oasis of opportunity

While the region’s traditional pillars – agriculture, defence, and resource – continue to flourish, North Queensland is also witnessing the emergence of dynamic industries. Advanced manufacturing and renewable energy are the flag bearers of innovation, reshaping the economic landscape. 

However, despite its many attractions, North Queensland is not without challenges on the horizon. Over the next 25 years, the region will grapple with shifts in demographics, increased urbanisation, and structural movements within the regional economy. 

In response to the evolving landscape, the North Queensland (NQ) Regional Plan was created as a pioneering framework, aimed at capitalising on the region’s growth, prosperity, and diversity.

The economic roadmap includes:

  • Cultivating new industrial areas: North Queensland has planned the development of fresh industrial areas, along with the necessary infrastructure. These new zones will be instrumental in supporting the growth of advanced manufacturing and other emerging industries, ensuring they thrive.
  • Expanding tourism offerings: The region is actively encouraging high-quality visitor experiences with the development of new tourism attractions. This will further cement North Queensland’s reputation as a must-visit destination.
  • Leading the charge in green energy: The goal is to emerge as a national leader in the green energy sector, harnessing its abundant resources to power a sustainable future.

Need assistance with an upcoming development in the region?

North Queensland is a land of diverse opportunities with key investment and infrastructure projects shaping the future of this vibrant region.

Barker Ryan Stewart is well-resourced and positioned to assist in providing our civil engineering, urban planning, and project management services for your next project in North Queensland.

If you have any questions about further opportunities for growth or how we can assist with your development, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Cover image sourced via Unsplash.

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