Shoalhaven Economic Development
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Welcome to the Shoalhaven

Competitive Advantages

Location and Lifestyle
The Shoalhaven’s beautiful natural environment plays a central role in the quality of life of the local community. The region’s temperate coastal climate, rich array of native flora and fauna, many natural attractions, thriving commercial and retail sectors and abundance of raw materials make the Shoalhaven an appealing place to live and work.

Regional Manufacturing Centre
The Shoalhaven has developed a dynamic manufacturing industry. With a total of 243 manufacturing business counts throughout the region in 2006, the Shoalhaven has more than doubled the size of its manufacturing industry over the past two decades.

The provision of inexpensive, high-quality serviced industrial land and a proactive Council have been important factors in attracting manufacturers to the region. The success of the Shoalhaven’s manufacturers is also the product of a regional emphasis on product and service quality and strong export performance. There is quite a diverse range of export oriented products produced in the region including yachts, chemicals, paper, food products and building products. 

Thriving Defence Industry
Many internationally recognised Defence contractors operate in the Shoalhaven including  British Aerospace, Raytheon, Air Target Services and Air Affairs. The Department of Defence operates a number of facilities in the Shoalhaven LGA, the largest being HMAS Albatross just south of Nowra. In all, the Defence industry contributes approximately $60M in annual salaries and 2000 jobs to the local economy. The Defence Department’s capital expenditure over the next few years is estimated to be around $150M.

The Albatross Aviation Technology Park (AATP) adjacent to HMAS Albatross is providing a specific location from which aviation technology enterprises can service domestic and export markets. The AATP presents a great opportunity for investors, with about 30 new industrial sites, with access to airfield facilities.

Shoalhaven Education Precinct
The education and training services and facilities available in the Shoalhaven represent a valuable asset for the region. The Shoalhaven Education Precinct - a recently established strategic development combining the efforts and resources of Shoalhaven City Council, the University of Wollongong, the Illawarra institute of Technology and the State Government - is providing the region with new economic development opportunities. At the centre of development is a new joint campus for the University of Wollongong and Illawarra Institute of Technology at Mundamia, to the west of Nowra.

The existing TAFE Colleges at Bomaderry and Ulladulla provide students and industry with the opportunity to learn and train locally. The region already possesses a strong skill base in trades and clerical personnel and the expanding educational facilities will provide an enormous boost to the pool of tertiary-trained persons residing in the Shoalhaven.


The Shoalhaven Local Government Area (LGA) is the southern most sub-region of the Illawarra. It’s 4,660 square kilometre area stretches from the rural township of Berry in the north some 85 kilometres south to the harbourside township of Ulladulla. The region is bounded by the Illawarra Escarpment to the west and the Pacific Ocean to the east. Its topography combines mountainous terrain, flat coastal plain, bays, inlets, lakes and rivers.

The spectacular natural environment is a major attraction of the Shoalhaven area. Within its boundaries are 109 beaches, 300,000 hectares of National Park and State Forest land. Jervis Bay and Kangaroo Valley are popular natural tourist attractions. The Shoalhaven River provides a significant natural water resource to Shoalhaven Water and Sydney Water. 


Since the 1970’s the Shoalhaven LGA has experienced strong population growth. In 2003 the estimated resident population was 92,880 and had grown an impressive 6.0% since 2001. The Shoalhaven’s average annual population growth rate during the 1990’s has consistently remained above the state average. From 2001 to 2007 the average annual growth rate of the Shoalhaven was 1.0%, significantly higher than the 0.8% average growth rate of New South Wales.

Projections by the NSW Department of Urban Affairs and Planning predict that the Shoalhaven’s population will continue to grow strongly over the next twenty years, but the rate of growth will plateau. Forecasts based on medium level growth indicate that the population of the Shoalhaven will reach 113,500 by the year 2021, a figure which would represent an increase on the current estimated population of around 19.4%.

According to the 2006 Census, the Shoalhaven had a 34,479 person strong labour force. Of this number 31,293 persons were employed. The most significant job-generating industries in the Shoalhaven are retail trade, manufacturing, health care and social assistance, construction and public administration and safety. Combined these industries account for approximately 53.7% of the entire workforce.

Economic Activity

Manufacturing, defence, tourism and agriculture represent the core income generating economic activities for the Shoalhaven LGA. The agricultural sector remains an important economic activity in the region. The gross value of produce in the 2001 season was $34.7M from such rural activities as dairy farming, nursery products, seeds and cut flowers.

The region’s retail sector is thriving, with a number of major retail and supermarket chains such as Kmart, Woolworths and Coles already operating in the area and considerable new investment taking place.

According to the ABS, as of 2006 there were 4,431 business counts operating in the Shoalhaven LGA. This healthy growth in new business is largely due to the strong emphasis placed on economic development by Shoalhaven City Council, which has successfully encouraged a significant number of firms to relocate or set up in the area. 

Natural Resources

The Shoalhaven has a very strong natural resource base including rich agricultural land, forests and vast waterways. Although dairy farming remains the dominant agricultural activity in the Shoalhaven, new value-added resource based industries are emerging. Strong growth potential exists in niche industries such as ecotourism, aquaculture, berry farming, viniculture, organic farming and turf farming. 


The Shoalhaven has the perfect attributes to be a very popular tourist destination – warm climate, an abundance of natural attractions, a myriad of outdoor recreational options, close proximity to the huge domestic markets of Sydney and Canberra and a healthy tourism infrastructure. It is no wonder the region is continually the most visited tourist destination in the state. Plenty of opportunity exists for development, particularly within the accommodation sector where there is a shortage of 3-5 star hotel establishments. 

The Future

The firm economic base provided by manufacturing, defence, agriculture, education and tourism will continue to grow. However, there is an increasingly export-oriented culture within the Shoalhaven’s business community, which has directed new industry focus on to niche and value-added products for export.

"15 jobs per week created in the Shoalhaven"

"The Shoalhaven has a secure water supply"

"Nowra is an easy two hour drive from Sydney"

"The Shoalhaven offers access to markets of 6 million people"

"Nowra will double in population by 2031"


Economic Development have a new strategy - Productive Shoalhaven 2017-2026

Shoalhaven Economic Profile

Remplan can provide you with Shoalhaven industrial economic data. 

Profile id. gives you access to a wealth of demographic data

Shoalhaven at a Glance
   100,295 (Mar 2017)
Labour Force:
   39,004 (Mar 2017)
Unemployment rate:
   8.23% (Mar 2017)
Gross Regional Product:
   $4.9 billion (Jun 2016)
Gross disposable wages & salaries:
   $2.2 billion 
(Dec 2016)
Value added:
   Property Services $758m
   Health/Social Assist $405m
   Manufacturing $381m
efence $373m
   Retail $301m
   Accom/Food Services $196m

(Dec 2016)