Wagga economy on the brink of a perfect storm

The overwhelming majority of Wagga’s most successful business people are convinced the stars are aligning for the local economy.
Nanjing Night Net

Seventy-four per cent of the city’s largest employers believed the city’s economic outlook was “good” or “excellent”.

Soaring business confidence, record agriculture profits and vital infrastructure construction mean Wagga’s economy is on the brink of a perfect storm.

At the same time as close to three in four local business people believe the local economy is taking off, another key indicator of Wagga’s prosperity – the agriculture industry – is staring down record profits.

Riverina’s large-scale crop farmers are gearing up for one of their best seasons in two decades, thanks to an exceptional spring, a bumper grain harvest and soaring livestock prices.

Beef prices have nearly doubled in real terms in the past three years to values not seen since before the 1970s cattle market crash and sheepmeat demand is surging.

The average broadacre farm is tipped to reap a cash income of $216,000 this financial year, according to the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES).

Only 4.5 per cent of Wagga’s 30,589 labour force is unemployed as of January, which is the second lowest unemployment rate outside Sydney bested only by the Hunter Valley.

Committee 4 Wagga’s (C4W) survey of its members, who are collectively responsible for more than 4,500 local jobs, emphasised the importance of the looming levee bank upgrade and council’s ability to attract a commercial partner to build the Riverina Intermodal Freight and Logistics (RIFL) hub.

Heightening the levee bank was ranked the city’s most important project because the current one-in-sixty-year protection limits property developer’s access to finance and jacks up insurance premiums for homes and businesses.

Insurance premiums for the 10,020 properties in the central precinct have gone up between 300 and 400 per cent since the city was evacuated in 2012, from an average of $1000 to $5000.

The looming upgrade will protect Central Wagga against a one-in-100-year flood event – or a 11.3 metre high river – and protect North Wagga against a one-in-20-year flood – or a 10-metre high river.

Construction of the heightened levee bank is set to start within months, although the project has been mired by wildly different quotes – millions of dollars apart – from the state government and a council-commissioned quantity surveyor.

“Retailers, residential developments and industrial developments in east Wagga – where it’s prone to flooding – are all effected by the high flood risk rating,” C4W CEO Chris Fitzpatrick said.

The city’s freight and logistics assets have been flagged as a key lure to attract metropolitan businesses pushed out of Sydney by urban sprawl and skyrocketing land prices.

New roads at Bomen will spark new industrial development, but a rail hub is tipped to triple investment.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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