Aviation hub shortlisted for economic development excellence

Port Stephens Council’s partnership with private enterprise and government bodies to promote a defence and aviation-specialist hub on land neighbouring RAAF Base Williamtown and Newcastle Airport has received national recognition.

The Williamtown Aerospace Centre regional marketing project has been shortlisted as a finalist in the Economic Development Australia 2014 National Awards for Economic Development Excellence, to be announced at the National Economic Development Conference in Darwin on 29 October.

The project to develop a world class employment cluster and build on the diversification of the regional economy is in line to take out the Economic Development Partnership Award.

Council played a key role in the creation of a management committee for the Williamtown Aerospace Centre, overseeing an extensive marketing program that included a presence at the prestigious Australian International Airshow at Melbourne’s Avalon Airport in 2009, 2011 and 2013, with planning underway for the 2015 event.

Mr. Andrew Powrie, Economic Development Manager, Port Stephens Council, says the project highlights how neighbouring Councils and public and private agencies such as the University of Newcastle, Varley and Hunter Land can successfully work together.

“Council’s involvement is far greater than the land rezoning process. It has an ongoing role in the sustainable growth of aviation-related industry, and profiling Port Stephens as an industry professional destination for those kinds of businesses,” he said.

“We have already seen the arrival of globally-recognised aviation and defence companies that are operating at the Williamtown Aerospace Centre, including Raytheon Australia, Lockheed Martin Australia Electronic Systems, Nova Systems, and locally founded and internationally successful Bohemia Interactive Simulations.”

Mr. Powrie says along with the arrival of hotel chain the Mercure, the project adds up to more jobs and investment for the Port Stephens economy in particular, and the regional economy generally.

“The success of this public/private partnership can be held up as an example to other areas,” he added.