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Nigel McKinnon

Nigel McKinnon

Deputy Director for Illawarra-Shoalhaven

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Illawarra-Shoalhaven at a glance

Strategically located 70 minutes south of Sydney

Strategically located 70 minutes south of Sydney

Strategically located 70 minutes south of Sydney, offering a competitive geographical and infrastructure base for businesses to benefit from global and domestic markets
Strong business environment

Strong business environment

Strong business environment supported by competitive rents, wages and retention rates, an experienced supply chain and ancillary services, and a large, highly skilled, multilingual workforce
Sophisticated and well-developed innovation ecosystem

Sophisticated and well-developed innovation ecosystem

Sophisticated and well-developed innovation ecosystem centred on the University of Wollongong and its Innovation Campus
Strong naval defence sector

Strong naval defence sector

Strong naval defence sector at Shoalhaven including two naval bases and Australia’s only naval air station

The Illawarra-Shoalhaven region contributes A$12.7 billion to NSW annually, supporting over 23,100 businesses.


The Illawarra-Shoalhaven is a region transformed.  Traditionally known for its world-class steel making and coal mining industries, the region’s economy is today driven by the advanced manufacturing, knowledge services and defence sectors.

The region’s significant defence presence is anchored by the Australian naval aviation HMAS Albatross and the Albatross Aviation Technology Park (AATP). Global prime contractors have established themselves at the AATP to service both HMAS Albatross and the national defence sector.

The region is well connected to domestic and international markets through a high quality broadband network, road and rail connections into Sydney and other markets on Australia’s east coast, and NSW’s third largest port at Port Kembla.

The region boasts an enviable and cosmopolitan lifestyle, just one hour from Sydney. House and apartment prices are 30% less than in Sydney. Residents have access to a coastal lifestyle and café culture, and quality local infrastructure means short work commutes.

Header image credit: Destination NSW

Key local attributes

Key local attributes

Wollongong and Nowra are the region’s two urban centres.

Illawarra-Shoalhaven is serviced by excellent infrastructure including access to the NBN and high-speed internet connectivity, major freight corridors into Sydney and south-eastern Australia, and the international port of Port Kembla located 10 minutes from the Wollongong CBD.

Illawarra-Shoalhaven has a supportive business environment, offering competitive rents and wages, higher staff retention rates compared to Sydney, and strong existing supply chains and ancillary service providers.  A large, experienced and multilingual workforce supports local industries.  Commercial real estate in Wollongong is on average A$300 per square metre for office rent per annum compared to A$675 in Melbourne's CBD, while industrial rent is on average A$100 per square metre in Wollongong (LJ Hooker Commercial, 2017).

Innovation is a key attribute of business in the Illawarra-Shoalhaven, driven by the University of Wollongong which is ranked in the top 2% of universities worldwide and renowned for producing 1000 high-quality, job-ready ICT and 600 engineering graduates every year.  Research experience covers ICT, engineering and advanced materials.  Businesses are well connected to its Innovation Campus and the vocational education provider, TAFE NSW.  These connections provide local industry with access to cutting edge research and testing facilities, and world-class graduates and post-graduates.

Aerial of the scenic route over Sea Cliff Bridge, Clifton - image courtesy of Dee Kramer Photography

Key local attributes

Sectors of opportunity

  • Professional and financial services

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    Workforce
    • 4.3% average annual growth in professional services employment outpacing Sydney’s 4%.

    • Over 13,000 employed in traded finance and professional services.

    • Over half of the workforce is tertiary educated, above the Australian average.

    Infrastructure
    • Broad range of affordable commercial property options.

    • Early adoption of the National Broadband Network with download speeds up to 100MBps.

    • 7.3MW Tier 3 Data Centre.

    Success
    • Third highest professional services gross value added per worker after Sydney and Newcastle.

    • University of Wollongong Innovation Campus, iAccelerate technology incubator, has the largest ICT graduate cohort in NSW.

    • Population growth of 70,000 in next 20 years, increasing the vibrancy of town centres.

    For more information on Professional and Financial Services, please refer to the sector detail page.

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  • Advanced manufacturing

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    Workforce
    • Growing employment, with over 900 businesses employing 13,500 people in the manufacturing sector.

    • A historically strong manufacturing sector which the region considers an important part of its identity, supported by a large and diverse range of skilled labour.

    • 1 in 4 adults have a tertiary science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) qualification and 60% of manufacturing workers carry a trade certificate or higher.

    • Reported staff turnover is 5% or lower.

    Infrastructure
    • Access to world-leading research at the University of Wollongong across advanced materials, steel, robotics and automation.

    • Access to major domestic and international markets through extensive road, rail and air links and the Port Kembla international trade gateway.

    • Average gross industrial rent ranges between A$115-A$150 per square metre in 2017.

    Success
    • Highest productivity region for traditional manufacturing and pursuing transition to advanced manufacturing and new technologies.

    • Significant industrial research sites for cleantech including biofuel (algae and biodiesel) and tidal technology.

    • Home to world famous Bisalloy Steels manufacturer.

    For more information on Advanced Manufacturing, please refer to the sector detail page.

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  • Defence and aerospace

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    Workforce
    • Experienced local supply chain including mechanical and electronic systems.

    • 2000 employed in defence and other transport equipment manufacturing.

    • 70 year history of supporting Australian naval and air power workforce requirements.

    Infrastructure
    • Naval and maritime cluster focused around HMAS Albatross and HMAS Creswell.

    • Albatross Aviation Technology Park adjacent to HMAS Albatross airfield includes companies Sikorsky, Lockheed Martin Australia and BAE Systems.

    Success
    • The region has a long and proud history of providing innovative defence technology and services to the Australian and global defence industries.  

    • A growing light aeronautics and simulation training industry.

    • HMAS Albatross base at Nowra is home to four Naval Air Squadrons and the Australian Navy Fleet Air Arm.

    • Historic Australian Navy’s HMAS Creswell Base and Royal Australian Naval College since 1911.

    For more information on Defence and Aerospace, please refer to the sector detail page.

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Success stories

Get in touch

Nigel McKinnon

Deputy Director for Illawarra-Shoalhaven
Office contacts
Ground Level, Block E, 84 Crown Street
PO Box 892
WOLLONGONG NSW 2520