Home' Forge : Vol 2 No 1 Contents 60
Dantia proves a powerful model to attract investors, and connect industry and government.
Aforward-thinking approach to
economic development is raising
Lake Macquarie’s industry profle,
attracting investment, and driving
innovation and new infrastructure.
In 2014, the Lake Macquarie City Council
established Dantia (the Lake Macquarie
Economic Development Company
Ltd) to work with business, all levels
of governments and the community to
deliver economic growth and jobs.
Dantia is a powerful model. Unlike most
regional economic-development bodies
that work within council, Dantia was
formed as an independent company.
This structure helps better identify
opportunities in Lake Macquarie, and
connect industry and government.
'Dantia is already delivering strong
results in less than two years,’ says
Dantia Chairman Trent Bagnall. ‘Council
had the foresight to recognise that a
company would be more agile and
better placed to work with industry and
investors at an early stage.'
Dantia opened its co-working space,
the Dantia Smart Hub (DaSH), within
a year of the concept being developed,
helped facilitate a faster rollout of the
National Broadband Network (NBN) in
the area, and is an integral part of Lake
Macquarie's vision to become a connected
'smart city' with a diverse industry base.
With an estimated population of 202,675,
Lake Macquarie is New South Wales's
largest regional city. Best known for a
lake twice the size of Sydney Harbour, it
has a thriving economy.
Lake Macquarie's industry strengths
include engineering, manufacturing,
logistics, defence and tourism. Education,
health, retail and technology are other
key industries. The City’s economy is
worth about $8 billion annually.
'People normally associate Lake
Macquarie with its beautiful lake, idyllic
lifestyle and tourism,’ says Bagnall.
‘But there’s also a lot of innovation
and economic development going on
behind the scenes. The opportunities for
industry are very signifcant.’
Dantia's strategy to facilitate economic
development is built on four pillars:
identity, investment, infrastructure
and innovation. It wants to raise Lake
Macquarie’s profle and create greater
awareness of its attractions for business.
Location is also an advantage. Lake
Macquarie is an hour north of Sydney
by car, a 10-minute drive to Newcastle
and 25 minutes to the Port of Newcastle.
Proximity to road, rail, shipping and
airport infrastructure positions it as an
industry hub in the Hunter region and
as a connecting hub to Sydney.
A growing population and skilled
workforce are other attractions. Lake
Macquarie's population is forecast
to grow by 60,000 between 2006 and
2031, creating demand for 36,000
new dwellings and 12,200 new jobs.
About one in fve of its residents have
advanced post-school qualifcations.
These strengths are attracting greater
investment. More than $376 million worth
of projects were approved in the City in
2014, up from $305 million in 2009, and
about 8000 new businesses have been
established in the past fve years.
Construction on stage one of the
$135 million Glendale Transport
Interchange began in July 2015, and
is due for completion at the end of
2016. The new two-kilometre road will
provide a critical transit interchange
to meet the future needs of the lower
There are also plans to build new
infrastructure at the Lake Macquarie
Airport after the announcement last
year that the Westpac Rescue Helicopter
Service would be based there. That
followed Lake Macquarie Airport's
successful tender to house NSW Health's
new helicopter emergency medical
services for the region. The airport's
proposed development will be a major
boost for Lake Macquarie's tourism
sector, and its economy generally.
Bagnall says Dantia is encouraging
the development of hard and soft
infrastructure (such as high-speed
broadband) in Lake Macquarie.
‘Competitive infrastructure attracts
business and investment. Companies
don't relocate here for our attractive
lifestyle; they need to know Lake
Macquarie is a very competitive place to
do business. We have the infrastructure,
and the amount of undeveloped land
here is a real opportunity.'
Innovation is another Dantia priority.
Its DaSH co-working space is expected
to build a larger community of start-
up enterprises, and help develop
innovation 'nodes' that are aligned
to different industries in each of Lake
Macquarie's nine towns.
Lake Macquarie City Council last year
released a Digital Economy Strategy to
make the City more technology enabled,
connected and sustainable, and is
reviewing submissions. NBN connectivity
and a growing technology sector will help
Lake Macquarie develop new industries
and strengthen existing ones.
To learn more about Lake Macquarie,
Innovative Lake Macquarie goes full
throttle to boost economic growth
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