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Our Region under a Microscope

  Hunter researchAs part of the Upper Hunter Coal Festival, we hosted the Hunter Research Foundation to present their findings from the last six months. This event was sponsored by Coal and Allied, and brought this opportunity to our community for free.

Insights into where we've been, where we are going and what is happening in our Upper Hunter community. There were plenty of opportunities presented - with ways to combat some significant and critical issues such as Youth Unemployment in our region. 

Presentations and questions from an expert panel were critical to our continued understanding of our Regional Economic landscape. 

Light at the End of the Tunnel

Ms Jenny Williams presented the cryptic question - is there light at the end of the Tunnel (or is it a train coming towards us)? 

Research shows that employment rates have been consistently higher performance than the overall NSW average. This was right up until 2014 where the Hunter region's employment rates plummeted below the NSW average employment rates. The good news is that by December 2014 our Upper Hunter region realigned to grow as strong as the NSW average, with 2015 looking to grow above the average levels again.


  • Youth Unemployment - although this is a critical area of concern it also provides a very unique opportunity for IT, Graphic Design, Design and similar industries. 
  • Premium Wine Export - there has been a significant increase in premium wine export from Australia in new markets such as China - although the Upper Hunter region isn't yet embracing this opportunity.

Read more here.

Future opportunities for the Upper Hunter

Was presented by Dr Alan Rai who outlined our competitive advantages, potential impacts of the recently negotiated free trade agreements and the energy and renewable resources sectors and how they are being embraced on a global scale.

Areas of competitive advantage that the Upper Hunter have were highlighted including agriculture, equine, tourism (in particular - agritourism) and energy.

Essential take-away's to embrace within your business included:

  • Strategic Business Plan: this is imperative to all business
  • Global Supply Chains and Networks (only 10% of the Hunter region are exporting yet it is an area of high growth opportunities)
  • Focus on design and high value segments
  • Innovation - early adopters of technology are performing stronger than competitors

For more detail read here.

Coal & Allied Business Update

Mr Chris Salisbury presented the Coal and Allied Business Update. 

Of total expenditure within the Upper Hunter mines managed by Coal and Allied:

  • 38% spent within local government authorities
  • 33% spent within NSW
  • 28% spent within the rest of Australia
  • 1% spent internationally

Chamber is keen to obtain further updates for the local procurement strategies for our members and will be providing these updates as soon as possible.

Mr Salisbury also identified the need for innovation within sectors and provided examples of how asking employees how best to resolve problems within their business had brought significant improvements and innovative strategies that saved considerable funds long term, and allowed local procurement of supplies required to make those improvements. The example used was to change night lights to LED lights - causing a huge saving in energy costs and longevity of lightbulbs - increasing the safety to staff. This came from an employee's suggestion to make the change and a local provider embracing the opportunity.

All Papers Now Available

For all of the Hunter Research Foundation's Upper Hunter Economic Papers for March 2015 from here.




2016 BUSINESS AWARDS Entries Close: 24th March 2017

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