12 Apr 2021

The following article was originally published in the Geelong Advertiser here

ENHANCED local mobility and a more vibrant central city will be the key drivers of wider Geelong’s future prosperity, according to research by Australian urban planning and property advisory firm Urbis.

Urbis’s Geelong director, Nat Anson, said the research indicated the urban core of Geelong needed more residential growth and investment to support events programming and the evening economy.

“The resulting improvements to public realm, vitality and culture will create larger-scale economic benefits across the Geelong region,” he said.

“The resulting improvements to public realm, vitality and culture will create larger-scale economic benefits across the Geelong region."

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Urbis, which has opened an office in Geelong, has measured leading Australian cities against its “Mission Fit Framework”, a predictive tool that helps understand how cities and regions are positioned for the future.

Mr Anson said while Geelong’s “Mission Fit” score of 68 per cent was more competitive than the Gold Coast, Wollongong or Toowoomba, the city would need to pivot to succeed in the future.

The six Mission Fit performance indicators – “people”, “planet”, “performance”, “positivity”, “power” and “place” – are underpinned by 51 interconnected data-based metrics.

Urbis found the Geelong region’s comparative strengths are “positivity” and “power” (both ranked 7.5 out of 10), informed by a strong visitor economy, business confidence, institutional leadership and a longterm vision.

The research indicates the immediate focus should aim to close the gap between the “performance” scores of urban Geelong (7.0 out of 10) and surrounding rural townships (5.5 out of 10) through infrastructure investment that supports talent and wellbeing and increases intra-regional connectivity and mobility.

Mr Anson said he believed it was Geelong’s time to shine with major federal and state funding for the Geelong Fast Rail, ongoing project delivery under the $370m Geelong City Deal, and new local policy support for major population growth centred on the central city and Geelong’s growth areas.

Urbis is a prominent adviser on cities and communities, with more than 600 people located in offices in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Gold Coast and Singapore.

Mr Anson leads a small Geelong team with the broader support of Urbis’s 200 Melbourne-based planners, economists and advisers.

“The response to our start-up in Geelong has been overwhelming and we’re on track to grow a local team of 10-12 staff over the next couple of years,” he said.

Urbis opened its Little Malop Street office in February last year but due to COVID restrictions the business held its official launch late last month.

The launch showcased some of Urbis’s recent projects including the Geelong Arts Centre, Epworth Geelong, Balmoral Quay and the Stage 5 redevelopment of GMHBA Stadium.

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