GOOD NEWS: Economist Reuben Lawrence says Bundaberg’s economy is set to improve over the coming year.
GOOD NEWS: Economist Reuben Lawrence says Bundaberg’s economy is set to improve over the coming year. Max Fleet

Bundaberg region set for an economic upturn

THE Bundaberg region is set for an economic upturn in 2016 according to economist Reuben Lawrence.

With major projects like the gas pipeline, NBN switch-on and the plasterboard factory ready to go, Bundaberg's future is looking bright.

Mr Lawrence presented his overview of Bundaberg's economy at the Bundy 4 Breakfast economic development forum at Brother's Sports Club yesterday.

In what is good news for business in the region, especially after some testing years due to flood and disaster, he suggested Bundaberg's economy would start to strengthen next year.

On most economic indicators Bundaberg's $4.2 billion economy was improving.

In the last 12 months, Bundaberg's population and economy had grown by 0.4 %.

While Bundaberg's population didn't grow as quickly as our neighbours Gladstone and the Fraser Coast, our economic growth outstripped them.

Both Gladstone (-0.5%) and Fraser Coast (-0.1) economies contracted last financial year.

Unemployment was still the major issue for Bundaberg with 11.3% of the population out of work.

The figure is slightly better than the Fraser Coast (12.4%) but is well behind Gladstone's impressive 5.4%.

On a positive note Mr Lawrence said it looked like the unemployment rate had levelled off and he predicted it would improve next year with some major developments coming online.

"The cycle is at its lowest point," he said.

While unemployment was the region's biggest concern Bundaberg's diversity of industry was its strength.

The Rum City is in the top 10% of regions in Australia on the business diversity index.

The region's strong agriculture, tourism, service and manufacturing sectors allowed the city to ride out economic highs and lows Mr Lawrence said.

The construction sector was also going extremely well at the moment.

Non-residential building approvals are up 6.5%, outstripping both Gladstone and the Fraser Coast.

Bundaberg's figure of $77.4 million was more than half the total of all three centres.