How Gympie’s economy dodged a COVID collapse
GYMPIE’s economy appears to have largely dodged the COVID-19 bullet and now its laid-back, rural lifestyle is being touted as the key to taking advantage of the region’s fortune.
New data from population experts Economyid forecasts Gympie’s Gross Regional Product to be down only 1 per cent in comparison to this time last year.
This is a significantly lower decline than the regional Queensland average (down 2 per cent), Queensland average (3 per cent) and Australian average (down 5 per cent).
The news for the region’s workers was not as good though, with an expected 4.4 per cent cut in the number of jobs.
This was on par with the drop in other regional Queensland areas and across Australia, but worse than the 3 per cent forecast for the state.
Demographics Group co-founder Simon Kuestenmacher, who in August identified Gympie as one of the 30 areas most at risk from the pandemic’s fallout, said its success was buoyed by its strong agricultural and health care industries.
The region’s low migration also provided a bulwark against a COVID-driven collapse.
He said the key to ensuring the region’s growth from now was to “tell a very compelling story”.
“You must lay out what a life looks like in Gympie,” Mr Kuestenmacher said
“You need to paint a picture.”
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And it needed to be simple “even if it might sound dumb”.
“It’s funny how simple the needs of people are,” he said.
In fact the biggest mistake the region could make was not being “loud and proud”.
Mr Kuestenmacher said the focus had to be on what Gympie had to offer compared to major cities.
This included things like children being able to ride bikes to school without needing a chaperone, and housing prices when stacked up against other areas.
Then there was the traffic, or lack thereof, which wreaked havoc on people’s mental health in major cities.
“If the commute would be possible in 20 minutes but you do it in an hour you’re very angry,” he said.
The region’s abundant land was also a plus.
Mr Kuestenmacher said millenials were now starting families, and there would be a surge in interest in three and four-bedroom homes with their own office.
“The need for big houses will be big,” he said.
When it came to attracting these people to the region, Mr Kuestenmacher urged regional governments and economic development groups to partner with groups like Seek.com to ensure regional vacancies were landing in front of as many job hunters as possible.
“There are some job opportunities that might be there that never pop up on their screen,” he said.