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Craig Jenkins

Craig Jenkins

Deputy Director for North Coast

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North Coast at a glance

Regional output of A$14.3 billion

Regional output of A$14.3 billion

Regional output of A$14.3 billion with over 40,000 businesses
Fast growing regional population

Fast growing regional population

Fast growing regional population of 510,000
Key tourist destination

Key tourist destination

Key tourist destination with 12.5 million visitors in 2016-17
A significant exporter

A significant exporter

A significant exporter of manufactured products

The North Coast has long been known as an exporter of high quality food and beverage due to its strengths in agriculture, horticulture and aquaculture, contributing A$14.3 billion to the NSW economy.


The North Coast has developed a strong manufacturing sector which operates across food, defence and marine applications. 

Emerging creative and digital businesses have capitalised on the region's education and ICT investments to grow within a supportive and highly liveable environment.

With a pleasant climate and biologically diverse environment, the region is well endowed with productive farmland, producing export quality macadamia and pecan nuts, other horticultural products, and niche craft beers and spirits.

The region's significant expanse of National and State parks and popular pristine beaches underpin a thriving tourism industry. As one of the fastest growing populations in NSW, the North Coast has a reputation for an enhanced quality of life, equidistance to Brisbane and Sydney.

Header image credit: Destination NSW

Key local attributes

Key local attributes

The North Coast region is a network of cosmopolitan cities and centres linked by the Pacific Highway to Sydney and Brisbane, and coastal, hinterland and rural communities. Over 61% of households are connected to broadband.

Over six significant regional airports connect to domestic hubs for air and passenger freight, and the Port of Yamba is the region’s main commercial port. Commercial real estate in Tweed Heads is on average A$250 per square metre for office rent per annum compared to A$675 in Melbourne's CBD (LJ Hooker Commercial, 2017).

The North Coast is well-serviced by tertiary education facilities including Southern Cross University,  the University of Newcastle, Charles Sturt University and the University of New South Wales which has a Rural Clinical School in Port Macquarie. TAFE NSW has the School of Audio Engineering based in Byron Bay. Tweed Heads, Lismore, Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie cities provide major hospitals and other key services.

Sun rises over the pier at Jetty Beach, Coffs Harbour - image courtesy of Destination NSW

Key local attributes

Sectors of opportunity

  • Agribusiness and food

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    Workforce
    • Over 12,000 people employed in agribusiness and food product manufacturing.

    • 3% of the workforce holds tertiary agricultural or environmental studies qualifications compared to the 2% national average.

    • Successful models of dairy, aquaculture and meat production co-operatives including North Coast Fresh Food & Cold Storage Co-operative, Clarence River Fishermen’s Co-operative, Norco and Northern Co-operative Meat Company.

    Infrastructure
    • Established livestock sector infrastructure, comprising over 40% of the region’s agribusiness output.

    • 83% growth in freight transport using the Pacific Highway, projected between 2011 and 2031.

    • Excellent established road, rail, port and airport freight networks and service suppliers facilitating easy access to domestic and international markets.

    Success
    • North Coast contributes over 30% of NSW fruit and nuts by gross value.

    • High quality and organic produce has increased the region’s reputation among leading Australian and international restaurateurs.

    • Paddock-to-plate experience showcases free range environment.

    For more information on Agribusiness and Food, please refer to the sector detail page.

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  • Advanced manufacturing

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    Workforce
    • 1,600 businesses employing over 12,500 people in the manufacturing sector.

    • Third largest regional employer for food manufacturing with a number of small and large employers.

    • A$35.30 hourly manufacturing wage compared to A$39.80 national average.

    Infrastructure
    • Reliable freight transport connections by the Pacific Highway and North Coast railway line.

    • Equidistant between capital cities of Sydney and Brisbane.

    • Regional airports at Port Macquarie, Coffs Harbour and Ballina significantly reduce travel times to markets.
    Success
    • Growing marine equipment and technology sector.

    • Largest employer in NSW for log saw milling and timber dressing, and second largest for other wood product manufacturing.

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

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  • Tourism

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    Workforce
    • Rapid growth of 4.9% in regional accommodation and food services employment compared to 1.6% in Sydney.

    • 12% of NSW’s accommodation sector employment, with consistent 1.4% annual growth since 2007.

    • A$27.50 hourly wage for accommodation and food services employees compared to A$39.80 national average.

    Infrastructure
    • Pacific Highway connects the region’s many coastal towns.

    • 225 accommodation establishments with nearly 8,000 rooms available.

    • Popular tourist attractions of Port Macquarie, Coffs Harbour and Byron Bay, 48 national parks and 12 state forests, numerous towns, villages and excellent surf and snorkeling beaches.

    Success
    • Largest tourist destination in Regional NSW, second most popular in the State after Sydney as measured by total visitors.

    • The region received over 5.1 million domestic overnight visitors, spending A$2.8 billion in 2016-17.

    • International visitors growth rate of 7.4% per annum since 2011-12.

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

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Success stories

Get in touch

Craig Jenkins

Deputy Director for North Coast
Office contacts
Suite 5, 17 Conway Street
PO Box 616
LISMORE NSW 2480