Wagga’s employment growth, liveability and business activities are the big winners from the Wagga Base Hospital redevelopment.
That is the conclusion of a two-year research project by Regional Australia Institute with input from the Murrumbidgee Local Health District.
The report, published only in November 2018, investigated the direct and indirect benefits of health-capital investment in Wagga.
Based on the completed stages one and two, $172 million will flow on from the gross regional product from the capital works.
The report found that “the redevelopments have heightened local perceptions of the city’s enhanced liveability, increased employment opportunities and potential for future growth”.
It concludes that the connection between the redeveloped hospital and its surrounding businesses show the presence of a “regional health precinct maturing in depth and breadth of services”.
“[This] in turn can attract further private investment,” the report reads.
“There has been a 47 per cent increase in the number of listings on Airbnb across the first half of 2017.
“The Wagga Rules Club’s decision to construct a hotel was partly driven by the club’s proximity to the redeveloped WWBH.”
Healthcare jobs in Wagga increased 31 per cent in 2011–16 compared with 12 percent in 2006–11.
Eddie Oczkowski, professor in applied economics at CSU Wagga, said the results were “impressive” for Wagga.
Together with supporting and supplying the needs of surrounding agricultural communities, there does not appear to be an over-reliance on any single major activity for the city.Eddie Oczkowski, CSU Wagga economics professor
“My sense is that Wagga is a well-developed regional community with a diverse range of ongoing employment opportunities, including the Army and Air Force bases, the hospital and related medical facilities, the University, and large agricultural processing facilities,” Dr Oczkowski said.
“Together with supporting and supplying the needs of surrounding agricultural communities, there does not appear to be an over-reliance on any single major activity for the city.”
He also said the analysis was well performed.
“It uses the standard tools to measure the impact of regional activities,” he said.
“The results are consistent with major construction projects such as the Wagga base Hospital and the ongoing funding commitment of the state government around regional health.”
Rachel Whiting, CEO of Regional Development Australia Riverina, said the report showed that health infrastructure investment was “both a response and activator to the growth of the region”.
“Because agriculture and agribusiness, for example, are growing as well, means we’re getting more people here who demand health needs.
“All industries are interconnected.”
Ms Whiting said their skilled-migrant program, one of three major initiatives to grow the region, recently reached a milestone that aligns with the report’s findings.
“Of those employed through the program, more than 30 per cent are in the health sector," she said.
Stage three of WWBH’s redevelopment is budget at $170 million – the overall project is the largest health redevelopment completed in regional NSW to date.
Regional economic impacts of public hospital investment
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