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Ian Smith

Ian Smith

Director, NSW Office of Regional Economic Development

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Regional NSW: A land of opportunity

Regional NSW: A land of opportunity

Regional NSW is Australia's largest regional economy with a wealth of investment, business and lifestyle opportunities.

Investing and doing business in Regional NSW offers a strategic location that can leverage off Sydney and its growing markets with connectivity to domestic and international markets.

Regional NSW is rich in resources, talented labour and successful businesses, with lower costs than major cities. It is home to a third of the state's population, and produces one-fifth of NSW's gross state product. Regional NSW has thriving agricultural, energy and resources industries and strong manufacturing, tourism and service sectors.

Diverse opportunities exist across established and emerging sectors:

  • advanced manufacturing
  • agribusiness and food
  • construction and infrastructure
  • defence and aerospace
  • 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

of NSW's gross state product

Employment growth

April 2015 - September 2017

Manufactured goods

of manufactured goods are produced regionally, particularly food and defence

Workforce employed

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

Source: ABS (6291.0); analysis based on ABS (5220) and DIRS, Australian Industry Report 2016, Experimental Gross Regional Product Estimates.

Invest in Regional NSW

Successful track record of international companies

Stable economy, business security

Stable economy, business security

Regional NSW is the most diverse regional economy in Australia, generating a third of the NSW economy.

Regional NSW is intimately connected to Sydney and its dynamic economy and sector strengths in financial services, ICT, construction, manufacturing, arts, culture and screen. Regional NSW is home to 3 million people, 40% of the total NSW population.

Approximately 39% of the value of the State’s exports is derived from agricultural, fisheries and other natural resources primarily sourced from Regional NSW.  

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

Businesses can take advantage of Australia’s economic performance, now in its 27th consecutive year of annual economic growth. Australia is the 13th largest economy in the world and 5th on the Index of Economic Freedom. It boasts one of the world’s most stable systems of government, underpinned by strong property rights and a robust financial system.

Diverse, established regional industries

Regional NSW is a diverse economic powerhouse. Traditional industry strengths have been developed using innovation and technology to add value and increase productivity.

Today, key sectors span agribusiness and food, advanced manufacturing, mining and resources, defence and aerospace, and professional and financial services.  

Rapidly growing opportunities exist in renewable energy generation, tourism, health and aged care, and education services. Freight, logistics and distribution, construction and forestry continue to be important supporting sectors.

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

Regional NSW has successfully lifted and diversified its services-share of economic activity. Services account for 57% of regional employment. Productivity is enhanced by services in mining, agribusiness, health and aged care, manufacturing, and professional and scientific sectors. In addition, each region sustains a local service economy encompassing retail and public sectors.

Innovation and digital connectivity

Innovation and digital connectivity

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

Regional NSW’s University of Newcastle and University of Wollongong both rank in the top 300 universities in the world in the 2018 Times Higher Education index.   

Businesses and industry groups can partner with local expertise to develop commercially viable innovations and technologies.  A strong regional network of tertiary education and technical training institutions ensures a ready supply of innovative graduates.

Connectivity continues to be enhanced with the new National Broadband Network being rolled out across regions. Regional centres are already receiving services and over 2 million businesses and households across NSW will be connected by early 2018.

Connected to markets

Regional NSW is connected to large and growing markets in Sydney, Australia, the Asia-Pacific and beyond.

Regional NSW is a strategic location for international companies seeking an investment and trade base to do business with Asia, or wanting to establish in the Asia-Pacific market. Ten of Australia's top 12 export markets are within the Asian region.

Australia's extensive trade agreements with major economies across Asia, Europe and North America facilitate the smooth flow of goods, services and investments. 

Goods are transported by road and rail from Regional NSW to domestic and international markets via sophisticated logistics, distribution and transport companies. 

Regional NSW has access to numerous international ports, the major being: 

  • Port Botany in Sydney, Australia's second largest container port 
  • Port of Newcastle, the world's largest coal export port 
  • Port Kembla near Wollongong, NSW's largest motor vehicle import and largest grain export terminals 
  • Port of Eden, NSW's southernmost deep water port which receives cruise ships, wood chippers and log ships.

Businesses are well served by international airfreight and passenger services from Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Brisbane and Gold Coast international airports. There are more than 70 public airports in the region.

Air and sea transport times to major markets
  Air (Sydney) Sea
Auckland Port of Tauranga 3 hours / 11-13 non-stop flights per day 2 days
Dubai Port of Jebel Ali 14 hours / 3 non-stop flights per day 12 days
Los Angeles Port of Long Beach 13.5 hours / 5 non-stop flights per day 11 days
Seoul Port of Incheon 10 hours / 2 non-stop flights per day 8 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 7 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 on commercial container ships’ average speed of 24 knots based on data from Sea-Distances.Org.

Skilled workforce

Skilled workforce

Skilled labour is readily available in Regional NSW, with 50% of the regional workforce holding tertiary qualifications.

Of these, 24% have a science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) qualification, 10% have a health qualification and 4% have an agricultural qualification.

Low costs

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

Office rental costs in Regional NSW average A$249 per square metre per year compared to A$675 in Melbourne's CBD. Wages are also lower, with median wages of A$60,700 per year.  The average annual charge for domestic waste in Regional NSW is A$293.

Source: ABS 2017 Greater Capital City Statistical Area-Rest of NSW, Census 2016 & LJ Hooker Commercial, 2017

Great lifestyle and career opportunities

Great lifestyle and career opportunities

Regional NSW is a great place to live and do business. More people are moving to Regional NSW for the lifestyle and increasingly diverse employment and career opportunities.

Spectacular coastlines and beaches, 900 national and regional parks, the outback, and the country’s largest ski fields are all available in Regional NSW.  Vibrant communities support local arts, cultural, sporting and restaurant scenes. Safe and relaxed coastal and inland cities and towns are connected by world-class transport and infrastructure.  

Regional NSW has over 1600 schools, 104 Technical and Further Education (TAFE) facilities and 5 major universities. Residents enjoy excellent access to high-quality health care and public services.  

Housing affordability in Regional NSW is a key attraction with the average monthly rent only A$808. Utilities and other costs, such as school fees and childcare, are also affordable.  

Regional NSW residents consistently report a higher quality of life, ranking life satisfaction and a sense of community belonging highly in surveys.

Home Page image credit: NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service
Page image credits: Destination NSW, Orange City Council, Advantage Wollongong, NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet & Amber Hooper Photography

Unprecedented NSW Government support for Regional NSW

Regional NSW is benefiting from a once-in-a-generation public investment in its infrastructure and communities to boost regional growth, and support businesses and investors:


for investment into regional transport infrastructure including regional growth roads, freight corridors and regional rail lines


for investment into regional water infrastructure


for enabling infrastructure needed to support job creation and economic growth across Regional NSW


for investment into infrastructure to increase tourist visitation to Regional NSW and create jobs


to support councils and community groups in delivery of crucial local infrastructure to improve quality of life across Regional NSW


to support investment into sports and cultural infrastructure


for investment in communications infrastructure and delivery of improved regional voice and data connectivity

Get in touch

Ian Smith

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