While the path to economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic remains uncertain, leaders are looking to identify and capitalise on new opportunities for regional Victoria.
Committee for Ballarat hosted a webinar on Wednesday morning exploring the possibilities for economic recovery in Ballarat beyond COVID-19.
David Robertson, Head of Economic and Market Research at Bendigo and Adelaide Bank and Beth Jones, Regional Development Victoria chief executive, spoke about the short and long term economic impacts and opportunities for regional Victoria.
The tourism, accommodation, hospitality and retail sectors in regional Victoria have suffered since COVID-19, compounding a difficult summer with bushfires and drought.
Almost 600,000 people across Australia are lost their jobs due to COVID-19 in April. 1.8 million people are currently underemployed, meaning they are not working as many hours as they would like.
Mr Robertson said stimulus packages and the easing of restrictions means businesses can begin looking at their post COVID-19 strategies.
He said while international tourism will be restricted for some, regional locations were well-placed to take advantage of an increase in domestic travel.
Moving from that survive and stabilise mode to how to stimulate and move forward is such an important community conversation.Beth Jones, Regional Development Victoria
When asked about her view on regional opportunities, Ms Jones said the opportunity for innovation and growth in regional areas was strong.
"With tourism, there is a lot of pent up demand for people to get out and about right now and there is an opportunity for people who usually go international to travel domestically.
"With things like Eat, Drink, West in Ballarat, there has been a strong sense of support for local production and supply, opening up opportunities for a more localised economy.
"There is a resurgence in the lifestyle regional locations offer. The opportunity afforded by remote working really opens up such a big opportunity for regional Victoria and Ballarat particularly as well."
Mr Robertson said he would not be surprised if there was an increase in demand for regional property, particularly in locations like Balllarat.
"The Reserve Bank has been clear they don't see the need to increase rates for years. That does play into supporting property markets," he said.
Regional Development Victoria is hosting a virtual roundtable discussion with community and businesses leaders in the Central Highlands on Friday.
Roundtables are being held for each partnership region.
Mr Jones said youth unemployment, the impact on young people, a sense of community connection, digital and tourism opportunities have been raised as issues during many sessions.
"Moving from that survive and stabilise mode to how to stimulate and move forward is such an important community conversation," she said.
The Ballarat Beyond COVID-19 webinar was part of Committee for Ballarat's online Leadership Learnings event series.
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