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Data centre plan a positive sign

Thursday 3 December 2020
A symbolic signing this week has pointed the way forward to business growth and improved digital connectivity across Albury and Wodonga.

A lease agreement between Council and Leading Edge Data Centres has been signed, paving the way for the Australian owned company to build a new data centre on a green field site at the Airport Industrial Estate.

Construction will start in the new year and when the centre is completed, residents and business operators will enjoy enhanced internet speeds and greater choice of technology providers, which means Albury and Wodonga will be well placed to attract new businesses looking for a high standard of connectivity in an increasingly digitalised industrial environment.

The agreement comes at a critical time for our economy as we work together to rebuild, following the impact of COVID-19 restrictions and the challenging effects of the border closure.

And while the virus undoubtedly dealt us a heavy blow, it’s encouraging to note that the foundations of our cross-border economy remain strong, meaning we’re well placed to drive growth and create local jobs and investment opportunities.

A report on our economic indicators, which was adopted by our Councillors last week, has shown that COVID caused an estimated three per cent contraction of the workforce in our local government area, but also that the fundamentals of the local economy remain strong.

For example, the report shows that the value of construction certificates in 2019-2020 was ten per cent higher than the previous five-year average, and that in June 2019 the Gross Regional Product for Albury and Wodonga was valued at $7.5 billion – a very healthy 4.2 per cent increase over the previous financial year.

Although these figures represent our economic activity before the pandemic struck, they also serve to illustrate the underlying strength of an economy that is ready to return to full speed.

As an indicator of that latent strength, the report also shows:

  • Albury-Wodonga’s labour force grew by 1.7 per cent by June this year, despite the onset of the pandemic
  • The population of the border cities has continued to grow by an average of 1.6 per cent since 2013, and
  • Albury’s home prices and sales volumes continue to rise, with the median house price going up by 1.9 per cent from 2018-2019 to 2019-2020

These figures are more than data on an accountant’s spread sheet; they’re evidence that by working together we can soon get our economy humming again.

However, it won’t happen by accident.

It will take the combined efforts of governments, business and the community to restore our economic fortunes but developments such as the Leading Edge data centre agreement show that our appeal to investors is strong.

As a Council, we’re also working hard to boost economic activity through a range of major projects, including the extension of the Wagirra Trail and associated Riverside Precinct works that will enhance our attraction to visitors, while ongoing work to develop the Nexus Industrial Precinct will ultimately deliver an economic and industrial powerhouse that will create thousands of jobs.

These bigger picture advancements will underpin our economic expansion, attracting more investment and encouraging population growth but in the meantime, we can all do our part to support our community by shopping at local businesses and fostering the sense of community pride that makes Albury such a great place to live, work and invest.

So, while we’ve endured a challenging time, it’s also an exciting period for us as we emerge from the economic and social gloom of 2020. We look forward to continuing that work together to make 2021 and beyond a brighter, happier and more productive time for us all.