The 2018 Australian Regional Development Conference will be held at Twin Towns Services Club, Tweed Heads, NSW this month over 17-18 September.

Joining us at the conference is Professor John Hicks, Professor of Ecoomics at Charles Sturt University who will present on ‘Investing in People, Place and Prosperity: Driving Regional Possibilities Town by Town’.

Regional Economic Structure and the Potential for Change

Professor John Hicks


The general economic structure of local government areas (LGAs) can be assessed through a range of tools such as shift-share analysis, location quotient (LQ) analysis, coefficients of regional specialisation and an analysis of backwards and forward linkages based on input-output (IO) analysis in order to identify issues in regional economic development. This data can be complemented by data collected through surveys of industry leaders and businesses to evaluate the entrepreneurial ecosystems and key challenges within LGAs. In addition, a significant amount of literature considers regional development policy strategies.

Together this information can be utilised to understand how the economies of LGAs are constructed and assist in the drafting of strategic and operational plans. However, two essential ingredients for implementing change across regional LGAs are (1) a desire for change and (2) a willingness by LGAs to work together to bring about this change. In this paper we examine, in general, the problems confronted by regions calling upon published statistics and utilising the diagnostics canvassed above. We look at the questions that need to be asked in assessing the health of local ecosystems and indicate the type of policies that need to be adopted if positive change is to be achieved. Finally, we consider some of the factors that hinder the adoption of such actions and offer some solutions to overcoming these problems.

1. Analysis of a region must draw on a wide range of data.
2. A myriad of regional development strategies are available.
3. The development strategies built on a local desire for change and which incorporate cooperation and networking across regions are the most likely to be successful.


John Hicks is Professor of Economics at Charles Sturt University where, for 16 years, he was Dean of the Faculty of Business. He has published on a range of regional, national and international issues in labour economics, industrial relations and macroeconomics – including regional airline access to KSA, the economics of petrol supply to regional Australia, analysis of labour markets for specific groups (women, nurses in regional Australia, farmers and older workers) and labour market policy. In addition, he has published on China and its economic relationship with Australia. John has been the recipient of internal and external grants for research and an award for research excellence.

As a member of the Institute for Land Water and Society and a recipient of several ILWS Research Fellowships, John is now engaged in a number of projects with a regional and sustainability orientation (including issues of flooding in Australia and Bangladesh, regional growth in Australia and China and regional labour market issues in Australia). He has previously been a Regional Development Board member in the Central West of NSW and a director of the Western Research Institute. Prior to joining CSU John taught at Monash University, the University of Melbourne and Massey University, New Zealand and was for several years Senior Economist at the Institute of Public Affairs in Melbourne. John’s primary teaching areas are macroeconomics, microeconomics and labour economics. He is responsible for undergraduate and post graduate subjects and is a doctoral research supervisor.

For more information on the 2018 Australian Regional Development Conference this month and to secure your spot, please visit

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