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Ian Smith

Ian Smith

Executive Director, NSW Office of Regional Economic Development

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Regional NSW: A land of opportunity

Regional NSW: A land of opportunity

Image credit: Orange City Council

Go further in Australia's most dynamic regional economy.

As our country’s most diverse regional economy, Regional NSW offers investment, business and lifestyle opportunities Australia’s other states can’t match.

Businesses based here can tap into the dynamism and creativity of Sydney, Australia’s only truly global city and our major gateway to domestic and international markets. At the same time, they have access to all the lifestyle and cost advantages that only a regional area can bring.

After all, Regional NSW is rich in resources, has a skilled workforce and is home to so many of Australia’s most successful businesses. It is also home to 40% of NSW’s population and contributes 8.3% of Australia’s entire GDP.

Key sectors with current opportunities include:

  • Advanced manufacturing
  • Agribusiness and food
  • Construction and infrastructure
  • Defence
  • Education
  • Forestry
  • Freight, logistics and distribution
  • Health and aged care
  • Mining and resources
  • Professional and financial services
  • Renewable energy
  • Tourism

Key facts about Regional NSW

Regional NSW economy

contributed to Australia's GDP in 2017-18

Employment growth

March 2017 - March 2019

Manufactured goods

of gross value added in manufacturing is produced regionally, with food and defence as key contributors


of the workforce employed in services, the highest of all Australian states

Invest in Regional NSW

Invest in Regional NSW

Image credit: Advantage Wollongong

Regional NSW is an established choice for investors. Now our 20-Year Economic Vision makes the case for investing here stronger still.

When you establish your business here, you’ll receive unparalleled help and support. This includes direct access to an investment concierge. The NSW Investment Concierge can help you obtain government assistance and act as your first port of call for advice on opportunities and potential sites for your business.

Generous financial incentives

We can help eligible businesses attract the best talent by offering relocation assistance for qualified workers, including relocation grants of up to $10,000 for each worker. Some businesses may also qualify for direct grants. 

This includes businesses located in Special Activation Precincts, such as Parkes in the NSW Central West and Wagga Wagga in the NSW Riverina Murray regions. These precincts provide a coordinated approach to land-use and infrastructure planning and make an ideal place for businesses to both start out and expand.

A bright future

The NSW Government has a long-term plan to keep our state’s economy strong and make sure our state remains the best place in Australia in which to live and do business. As part of this approach we’re investing heavily in Regional NSW right now.

Your opportunity to be part of our exciting future awaits.

Connected to Sydney, Australia’s global gateway

Regional NSW is home to three million people, 40% of the total NSW population. It is the most diverse regional economy in Australia, generating a third of all economic activity in our state.

Regional NSW is closely connected to Sydney, Australia’s only truly global city and gateway to the world. Sydney is recognised as having particular strengths in key sectors including professional and financial services, ICT, education, construction, manufacturing, arts and culture.

With Australia’s largest international airport, a major seaport and rail and road connections, Sydney is also a major gateway for our export markets. For instance, in 2018 alone, NSW’s primary industry exports earned A$5.4 billion, making it a significant contributor to the Australian economy.

Stable government, secure business

The economy of Regional NSW benefits from a stable state government, a transparent legal system, and business-friendly regulation and policies.

Australia is the 13th largest economy in the world and is now in its 28th consecutive year of annual economic growth. It is ranked fifth in the Index of Economic Freedom and 13th of 180 countries in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index 2017.

Australia is also ranked seventh for ease of opening a new business and 14th for overall ease of doing business, according to the World Bank. Our country boasts one of the world’s most stable systems of government, which is underpinned by strong property rights and a robust and resilient financial system.

Discover some of the leading international companies that have chosen to invest in Regional NSW

Diverse, established regional industries

Regional NSW is a diverse economic powerhouse and one of the key factors in both NSW and Australia's ongoing economic success.

Traditionally, our key sectors include agribusiness and food, advanced manufacturing, mining and resources, defence, and professional and financial services. We have a long and prosperous tradition in each of these industries. However, we work hard to continually increase productivity and add value through innovation and embracing technological change.

Regional NSW’s major merchandise exports include coal, copper, beef and aluminium. It has a diverse export-base of manufactured goods, agricultural commodities, high quality food and beverages, and minerals.

In today’s dynamic economy there are also real opportunities in renewable energy, circular economy, tourism, health and aged care, and education. This is leading to substantial demand and high growth in supporting sectors such as freight, logistics and distribution, construction and forestry.

Regional NSW has successfully grown and diversified its services sector too. In fact, services account for 34.3% of regional employment and each region sustains its own local service economy.

Many of our service-based industries also help promote increased productivity in our mining, agribusiness, health and aged care, manufacturing, and professional and scientific sectors.

The power of innovation

The power of innovation

Image credit: Vicki Brown, Department of Regional NSW

Regional NSW is home to world-class research and innovation centres, many of which specialise in agricultural technology, defence and advanced manufacturing.

Regional NSW is also home to many world-class universities including the University of Newcastle and the University of Wollongong, which both rank in the 2019 Times Higher Education Index’s top 350 global universities.  

Our first-class tertiary institutions provide the opportunity for research and development partnerships. They also combine with our leading technical education facilities to ensure a ready supply of highly skilled and innovative graduates.

Meanwhile, the National Broadband Network is being rolled out across regions, ensuring businesses stay connected with fast internet speeds. Australia-wide, 5.4 million homes and businesses were connected by May 2019.

This is complemented by the A$400 million Regional Digital Connectivity program, which is focused on bringing faster, more reliable and widespread digital coverage to Regional NSW. The program will reduce mobile black spots and future-proof regional mobile and internet coverage to make sure our regions can compete with metropolitan centres when it comes to connectivity.

Connected to markets in Australia and around the globe

Regional NSW is connected physically as well as digitally. This includes links to Sydney and Australia’s markets as well as to the extensive growing markets in the Asia-Pacific and beyond.

In fact, 12 of Australia's 15 largest markets are now in Asia, with a total combined trade value of more than A$500 billion.

The NSW Government recently committed to investing a record A$93 billion in infrastructure projects – the most of any Australian state or territory. This will help increase efficiency even further, bringing down export costs and making sure our economy becomes even more intertwined with the world’s most dynamic economic region. This connectedness makes Regional NSW the perfect strategic location for international companies looking for an investment and trading base in the Asia-Pacific region. We are also well connected to major economies in Europe and North America, ensuring the smooth flow of goods, services and investments.

Businesses based in Regional NSW can access several international sea ports, including:

  • Port Botany in Sydney, Australia's second largest container port
  • Port of Newcastle, the world's leading coal export port and largest bulk shipping port on Australia's east coast
  • Port Kembla in Wollongong, NSW’s largest motor vehicle import hub and grain export terminal, and our second largest coal export port
  • Port of Eden, NSW's southernmost deep water port with the capacity to receive cruise ships, wood chippers and cargo ships for logs.

Businesses also have access to road and rail links to domestic and international markets, serviced by sophisticated logistics, distribution and transport companies.

Parkes, in the NSW Central West, is NSW’s first special activation precinct. The NSW Government is establishing an inland port in the town to take advantage of its strategic location on the A$9.3 billion Brisbane to Melbourne Inland Rail, and to tap into the extensive agribusiness, mining and other economic opportunities nearby. 

Wagga is the second official special activation precinct, located in the NSW Riverina-Murray region. It will also capitalise on the Inland Rail and create opportunities for growth and new investment in advanced manufacturing, recycling and agribusiness, and will value-add at every stage of the agribusiness supply chain. Two additional special activation precincts have been announced for the Snowy Mountains and Moree areas.

Meanwhile, the investment of A$9.3 billion in Inland Rail will transform the way freight is moved around the country, connecting Regional NSW to domestic and international markets more efficiently.

Businesses are also well served by air. There are 58 public airports in Regional NSW, as well as international air freight and passenger services from Sydney, Newcastle, Canberra, Melbourne, Brisbane and Gold Coast international airports.

How long does it take to reach global markets?
  Air (Sydney) Sea
Auckland Port of Tauranga 3 hours / 11-13 non-stop flights per day 3.9 days
Dubai Port of Jebel Ali 14 hours / 3 non-stop flights per day 12.2 days
Los Angeles Port of Long Beach 13.5 hours / 5 non-stop flights per day 11.3 days
Seoul Port of Incheon 10 hours / 2 non-stop flights per day 15.3 days
Shanghai Port of Shanghai 10 hours / 2-4 non-stop flights per day 8 days
Singapore Port of Singapore 7.5 hours / 9 non-stop flights per day 13.3 days
Tokyo Port of Tokyo 9.5 hours / 3 flights per day 7.5 days

Source: Air approximations are based on Google Maps. Sea approximations calculated using commercial container ships’ average speed of 24 knots and data from

A highly skilled, productive workforce

A highly skilled, productive workforce

Image credit: Advantage Wollongong

Regional NSW boasts a ready supply of skilled labour, with 58% of the workforce holding tertiary qualifications.

Of these, 22% have science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) qualifications, 10% have a health qualification and 4% have an agricultural qualification.

Best of all, our population is growing, with more talent entering the labour market every day. In fact, the number of adult workers living and working in NSW is set to ncrease by 8.4% by May 2022, compared to projected national growth of 7.8%.

Around 15% of NSW workers are self-employed and 33% work outside of Sydney.

Low costs

Doing business in Regional NSW costs significantly less than in major metropolitan locations.

Office rent in Regional NSW averages A$260 per square metre a year compared to A$695 in Melbourne’s CBD. Wages are also lower with an annual median of A$60,700.[1]

The average annual charge for domestic waste in Regional NSW is just A$329.

Better lifestyle and career opportunities

Better lifestyle and career opportunities

Image credit: Amber Hooper Photography

Increasingly, people are moving to Regional NSW for its safe, relaxed lifestyle and diverse employment and career opportunities.

Regional NSW boasts spectacular coastlines and beaches, 890 national parks and nature reserves, the Australian Outback and the country’s largest ski fields. It combines this with vibrant communities and thriving local arts, cultural, sporting and restaurant scenes.

The transport and infrastructure available here is world-class, with excellent access to high-quality health care and public services.

Regional NSW has 1,648 schools, 100 Technical and Further Education (TAFE) facilities, 350 private registered training organisations and five major universities.

But most importantly, life in Regional NSW is surprisingly affordable, helping it to attract more and more skilled workers every day. The average monthly rent is just A$1,120 and residents can expect to pay substantially less than their metropolitan-based counterparts for other living costs, such as school fees and childcare.

Regional NSW residents also consistently report a higher quality of life. The NSW Government is committed to making this even better by working towards a stronger regional economy, growing the number of quality jobs, increasing job security and building well-connected communities.

Unprecedented NSW Government support

Regional NSW is benefiting from a once-in-a-generation A$93 billion public investment in infrastructure and communities over next four years.

This aims to boost population and economic growth and support businesses and investors.

One example of this large-scale infrastructure development is the A$4.2 billion Snowy Hydro Legacy Fund, which will help deliver the critical infrastructure and priority initiatives identified in the NSW Government’s 20 Year Economic Vision for Regional NSW.

The Fund brings together planning and investment to focus on growing jobs and economic activity in Regional NSW. Business cases are being developed to identify projects in five focus areas:

  • Water security
  • Rail and road passenger connectivity
  • Freight linkages
  • Digital connectivity
  • Activation Precincts

Key financial investments


to deliver critical infrastructure
through the Snowy Hydro
Legacy Fund


for drought relief package


for faster, safer and cheaper travel, supporting the intercity fleet


to invest in communications infrastructure and deliver improved regional voice and data connectivity (part of the Snowy Hydro Legacy Fund).


to enrich country communities

Get in touch

Ian Smith

Executive Director, NSW Office of Regional Economic Development
Office contacts
Suite 1, Level 1
47-59 Wingewarra Street
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