The Barossa has been named as a key industry hotspot for specialised food processing employment in regional Australia, a Regional Australia Institute (RAI) report has revealed.
The Regional Growth Prospects Report pinpointed regions across the country where jobs in food processing, tourism, advanced manufacturing and creative industries matter for local employment and where policy makers and regional leaders should focus investment.
Barossa was ranked second among 158 Regional LGAs specialising in food processing with 21.2 per cent of industry jobs in wine and beverage processing.
However, Barossa did not rank highly in the tourism specialisation analysis, indicating the overall economy was more diverse with employment and growth less reliant on tourism alone.
“This does not mean that tourism is not important as a key industry in these regions from a national, state or regional development perspective, but it is not a clear or strong local specialisation,” the report read.
“Growth in other industries alongside or instead of tourism may be more important to local and regional success.”
The Barossa Council Mayor Bim Lange said the report reinforced Brand Barossa, which he described as “food, wine and the community”, would support discussions with Sate and Federal Government and also provided a catalyst to “keep going”.
“It re-affirms that things that have been going on in the Barossa for a number of years have benefited our region, but it also highlights the importance of looking at the trends within our region and making sure our conversations are about planning well for our future. I think that is the critical thing,” Mayor Lange said.
He said the Regional Growth Prospects report highlighted the region’s ability to attract and retain professional people into the area, the job opportunities and also the area’s liveability.
“It also probably reaffirms where we are tracking in respect to the Concordia development,” Mayor Lange said.
“That will be a greenfield site which I believe is important for the Barossa region in so much as it gives us an opportunity to build a new community that not only takes into account the Barossa character and heritage, but also protects our existing townships and villages without expanding.
“It provides other employment opportunities consistent with what we are hoping to pull together in the future.”
Mayor Lange said Council had also spoken about how best to facilitate growth without diminishing the values of the Barossa.
“Let’s look at the red tape and some of the barriers which become hurdles to jump over.
“At the end of the day, it’s about not sitting back on our laurels…constantly being challenged and grabbing the opportunities.”
Bringing tourism to new heights
The fact Barossa didn’t rank highly in the tourism specialisation analysis has provided a talking point for Council to think creatively says Mayor Lange.
“I think the challenge is to raise the bar as far as attracting more international tourism,” he told The Leader.
“There is good data here….It becomes a talking point on how best we can capitalise on the benefits of what this report has highlighted and to move forward in a constructive way, taking into account that there are creative industries we need to think a little bit about too.”
Mayor Lange said the report validated the need for five star accommodation, something the Barossa “really needed”.
“I think it also highlights the need for a regional airstrip so we can have fly in, fly out tourists, taking it to another level for what the market is looking for.”
Eco tourism is a space Council is wanting to build on.
“Further development of the Warren, the opening up of the South Para – mountain bike recreational activities, small yachting crafts and rowing, some of these facilities take us to another level as far as the tourism aspect of what we are trying to develop goes,” Mayor Lange said.
“It gives a wider variety of what people can experience within our region and also opens up other employment opportunities within the tourism sector.”