Murray region is thriving, figures show | REPORTS

Murray Now chairwoman Barbara Hull said promoting industry was vital to selling the region. Picture: DAVID THORPE

Murray Now chairwoman Barbara Hull said promoting industry was vital to selling the region. Picture: DAVID THORPE

THE Murray region has continued to flex its economic muscles.

A report released yesterday showed the region generated $19.9 billion in gross product in 2012-13 — up from $18.2 billion a year earlier.

The figures are contained in the eighth annual Murray Now Regional Profile.

Murray Now is a regional economic development group with offices in Albury and Deniliquin.

Chairwoman Barbara Hull said the higher gross product figure was partly due to much better data from industry, such as the food processing and forestry sectors.

Ms Hull said the report featured data that had “additional key elements” necessary for attracting investment.

“It’s critical we promote our industry strengths and the important role we play on a national and international level,” she said.

“The additional information targets regional export trends, freight movement, industry compositions and industrial land availability, further assisting with highlighting our value proposition for the Murray.”

Agriculture, healthcare and manufacturing continue to be key growth drivers for the region that covers both sides of the Victorian-NSW border.

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The area takes in Albury-Wodonga and such towns as Henty, Urana, Moulamein, Deniliquin, Finley, Berrigan, Balranald, Mildura, Wentworth, Ouyen, Swan Hill, Kerang and Echuca.

To highlight what it said was “the success of doing business in the Murray”, the organisation drew attention to the approval of $348 million in non-residential building.

On top of that, there was more than $1.4 billion in planned major projects — Albury-Wodonga’s $60 million cancer centre was one of many on a long list.

Ms Hull said a whole-of-region approach was the best way to attract investment.

“It’s so much easier for us when you’re talking to someone from overseas,” she said.

“They don’t really understand what Albury Council is about, they just want to know what’s in the region — how many people there are, what’s the turnover, what land is available and whether you can get the product to port.”

Ms Hull said investors just wanted the basics.

“That’s how Murray Now came about — it’s because we aren’t parochial,” she said.

“We’re for one big region — that’s been really significant.”

Ms Hull said having big companies such as Visy and Mars Petcare doing well in the region gave investors a lot of confidence, as did having universities.

“It’s great because, for example, you can actually get your engineering degree by living here in the Murray through Deakin University,” she said.

“This all makes it so much easier for us to sell the region when we go to trade expos and events because it’s all there.”

The report can be read at murraynow.com.au.

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