Geelong and Ballarat have been named two of the best-performing Australian cities for growth

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Geelong and Ballarat have been named two of the best-performing Australian cities for growth

Look at regional Victoria go!

Cities outside the capitals such as Ballarat, Geelong, Newcastle and Wollongong have achieved nation-leading economic growth and inclusive growth, according to comprehensive new research into all 101 Australian towns released today.

Comparing the latest Australian government data on all urban areas, including jobs growth, investment and welfare reliance, Polis Partners’ The City Report revealed key regional Victorian and New South Wales cities topped their capital city counterparts.

Polis Partners economist and author, Rob Tyson, said The City Report highlighted the positive growth and development happening in regional areas.

“When you compare all 101 cities across Australia on these economic and inclusive factors, you find there are some really exciting things going on in the smaller regional areas,” he said.

“We know many city dwellers are looking for alternatives to the cost, traffic and busyness of urban life.

“Importantly, it’s not just about economic growth. What you really want to see is economic growth translating to inclusive growth, meaning jobs for communities and less reliance on welfare payments.

The City Report benchmarked cities based on jobs growth, business activity, construction and investment, as well as changes in their unemployment rate and reliance on government payments.

This June 2020 report – which is based on statistics from before the COVID-19 upheaval – gives a baseline to compare cities and track outcomes for government-funded initiatives into the future.

It was the “Goldilocks” cities – not too big, not too small, and importantly, close to capital city opportunities – that achieved the highest rankings, with Ballarat, Newcastle and Wollongong being amongst the top performers.

“These ‘Goldilocks’ cities – just the right balance of big city job opportunities, industry diversity and amenity without the prices, crowds and traffic jams – are also generating economic growth with equality. The benefits are spread across the population.”

Ballarat (population 107,652) was the best performing town overall, with the top economic growth ranking, and number four on the inclusive growth ranking, while Geelong (population 275,794) was second overall, at number three for economic growth and number two for inclusive growth.

In comparison, Melbourne ranked 23 and Sydney ranked 25.

Mr Tyson said as governments continued to roll out packages to overcome the economic impact of COVID-19 fallout, The City Report provided an important baseline of data to track the impact of these packages.

“Coming into the lockdown, different cities were already on very different economic growth and inclusive growth trajectories,” he said.

“Governments need to ensure their investments create opportunity and recovery across all sectors, cities and towns, and don’t entrench economies with more uneven levels of unemployment and greater reliance on government payments.”

Polis Partners is a strategy, policy and economics consultancy that helps governments and businesses secure future investments using an evidence-based approach. Polis Partners founder, Rob Tyson, is a former director at PwC Australia, and led its Canberra economics practice.