Why Bundaberg is set to take on the rest of Australia
GOOD times may be ahead for Bundaberg, with new research predicting the city will be among the fastest growing regional cities in Australia.
Think tank Regional Australia Institute has predicted Bundaberg will have a 3.2% compound annual growth rate between 2013 and 2031 - the equal fifth fastest growth rate of all regional cities.
The growth rate takes into account factors including the local economy and population growth.
Bundaberg's projected rate is equal to Darwin and Gosford-Wyong and only behind Townsville, Cairns, Toowoomba and Mandurah.
RAI chief Jack Archer said Bundaberg's challenge was to use a growing population to tackle unemployment.
"A lot of the growth across the Wide Bay is based on strong population growth," he said.
"Unemployment is obviously an issue for the area at the moment, so turning that population growth into businesses and jobs is the challenge."
Bundaberg mayor Jack Dempsey said the city's economic diversity was its strength.
"Tourism figures are way up, the airport is making money and we have one of the strongest agriculture sectors in Queensland," he said.
"The Port of Bundaberg has been named a state development area and that's a spot with a huge amount of potential for us."
Bundaberg and District Chamber of Commerce president Yale Morgan said confidence was growing among Bundaberg businesses and consumers.
Mr Morgan agreed economic diversity was one of Bundaberg's strengths.
"Even within sectors we are quite diverse. You look at agriculture, there's a lot more than just sugar around here," he said.
"Macadamias, lychees and sweet potato are all crops that are all becoming bigger and bigger."
Local government alliance Regional Capitals Australia praised the report and RCA chair Shane Van Styn said the report showed population size was not the only economic indicator.
"This report is essentially saying cities of all sizes are dynamic - the idea that regional cities are and will continue to be a drag on our economy is clearly fanciful and fiction," he said.