The Limestone Coast welcomes new, expanding and emerging business and industry into the region. Recent analysis of workforce supply and demand gives a picture of likely investment opportunities within the region.
The forest industry has an enormous task to complete as the Blue gum harvest begins in the near future. Transport, harvest and haulage operators will be in high demand.
The construction industry has shown strong growth in the region over the last ten years and is projected to continue this growth. Housing, renewable energy requirements and construction services are projected areas of demand.
The Limestone Coast region has reliable rainfall and particularly in the lower part of the region, high rainfall compared to other regions of South Australia. Water management through a range of irrigation technologies, to comply with water regulation and use, and to improve the agricultural practices of the region is required and expected. There are opportunities to further build these capabilities and to target green industries and the greening of existing industries.
A number of renewable energy projects are either in place, planned and committed or under consideration. These are situated on the coast and in the lower part of the region. They include:
Geothermal projects with a range of companies including Geothermal Resources Ltd (the Crower project), and Panax Geothermal Pty Ltd. The company Hot Dry Rocks is providing consultancy services to Panax Geothermal.
Wind power projects are already providing power and income in the region, with additional projects being built and planned.
Wave energy is being investigated for areas off the southern coast of the region. Biomass projects using forest residues and seaweed are either in place or at an advanced or conceptual planning stage.
The Climate Institute commissioned McLennan Magasanik Associates (MMA) to assess the potential contribution of renewable energy to regional employment. MMA concluded that South Australia is expected to see renewable energy output grow by over 200% by 2020 and is one of the states to most benefit from renewable energy projects. The report estimated clean energy investment from committed and planned projects in South Australia to be $87 million for biomass, $2,122 million for geothermal and $6,076 million for wind.
This growth would lead to 788 permanent jobs and 3798 peak construction jobs in South Australia. The Limestone Coast is seen as a clean energy ‘hot spot’ and the report anticipates 497 permanent jobs (both existing and new for operation and maintenance), 2,858 peak new construction jobs and new local expenditure of $1,202 million (goods and services, purchase of biomass materials, payments of rent to farmers for wind turbines) in the region.
In addition there will be indirect employment opportunities in the manufacturing of equipment and the provision of services and materials, some of which will be within the region.
To value add to this sector, the development of a maintenance centre for sustainable, renewable energy, together with a hub for innovation and research and development for this sector could be positioned in the region.
Gourmet food and wine, five star accommodation and associated conference/events and hospitality services, niche tours (sink holes, diving, wine, gardens, forests, coast line and beaches, 4 wheel drive, surf school, sailing), festivals, cultural tourism, environmental tourism, geopark (Kanawinka) and Mary MacKillop’s canonization are all seen as opportunities.
There are opportunities to better engage the high spending sector of the tourist market.
Food and Beverage
Given the availability of water both through the underground aquifer and rainfall, food and beverage production is seen as an area for expansion. Aquaculture/seafood/marron, specialty field crops, high value irrigated produce, niche crops, dairy, horticulture, gourmet meat and cool climate crops already exist right across the region. Value adding processes including bottling, contract packaging and distribution and consolidators for marketing produce are important to lift some of these activities from “hobby” to a profitable and sustainable business level.
Horticulture Investment in the Limestone Coast
There are opportunities for the Education sector to grow the number of students and the diversity of courses offered in the region. Current activity is focused on attracting international students and students from outside the region, career development for individuals, English language courses and post graduate studies for professionals.
Suggestions for other opportunities include brokerage for online and other distance education, research agencies, personal interest and lifestyle learning, recognition of prior learning services, recreation as well as employment driven learning, expanded courses for viticulture, agriculture, horticulture, marine science, organic food, aquaculture, engineering, water/irrigation, land management, logistics, environment, business leadership and management, and reskilling for career change.
The health sector has experienced strong growth over the last ten years and is predicted to continue this growth. Mount Gambier has been named as one of four regional hospitals in the state, the population profile is aging and expectations around medical care are expanding. Flinders University has a presence within the region as a provider of third year medical student course work and placement. The University of South Australia has a Bachelor of Nursing degree and TafeSA delivers a range of Health related courses, all from Mount Gambier. To build on these initiatives so that they are sustainable and act as an attraction and retention strategy for the health and medical workforce, a research centre for health could be considered.