Bright economic future on the Sunshine Coast
  • Wednesday 02 September 2015
David Foster

Former Suncorp Bank CEO David Foster, who successfully rebuilt the organisation at the height of the global financial crisis, has been appointed Chair of the Sunshine Coast Economic Futures Board.

Mr Foster, a foundation board member since May 2014, takes over the role of chair from Mayor Mark Jamieson now that the board is established and operating.

The board was formed to oversee the implementation of the Sunshine Coast Regional Economic Development Strategy and monitor its progress.

Mr Howard Aron, Group CEO of Youi Insurance, has also been appointed as a member of the Economic Futures Board.

Mayor Mark Jamieson welcomed the appointments of Mr Foster and Mr Aron.

“Mr Foster has extensive experience in business and financial management including distribution, marketing, risk, governance, finance and capital markets,” Mayor Jamieson said.

“He is a professional company director and advisor across a range of industries including financial services, engineering and construction, education and government.

“His experience will help drive the work of the economic futures board to ensure the key commitments in the Regional Economic Development Strategy are being delivered to drive economic growth and community prosperity for our region.

“Mr Aron is well known to the Sunshine Coast, having been part of the team that established Youi here in 2007 and grown the business to what it is today, employing more than 900 people.

“Earlier this year, Mr Aron announced that Youi would be establishing its global headquarters on the Sunshine Coast, cementing their long term commitment to the region and its prosperity.

“Mr Aron brings to the board that direct experience in establishing and growing a highly successful business on the Sunshine Coast, along with his experience in digital technologies and a number of start-up companies over many years – all of which is directly relevant to the implementation of the Regional Economic Development Strategy”.

The Strategy provides the region with a set of aspirational goals to 2033 and a five-year implementation plan to drive progress towards achieving those goals.

“That implementation plan is well and truly underway and delivering results,” Mayor Jamieson said.

Mayor Jamieson and Mr Foster today (Sep 2) presented the Sunshine Coast Economic Futures Board’s second annual report on the implementation of the Strategy.

Key achievements in 2014-15 include completing the “INVEST Sunshine Coast” investment prospectus which has been designed to promote and position the Sunshine Coast in domestic and international markets as a leading investment destination.

Industry and investment plans for the seven high-value industries of health and well-being; education and research; knowledge industries and professional services; tourism, sport and leisure; agribusiness; clean technologies; and aviation and aerospace have also been completed and are now being implemented.

“The work delivered in the second year of the Strategy has helped cement and build on some important foundations and new initiatives,” Mayor Jamieson said.

“These initiatives will facilitate economic growth and investment opportunities and help the region position itself as a leading economic and urban centre in Australia.

“They will grow and strengthen our economy and put us on track to increase household incomes above the state average.

“Headline projects in the past 12 months include construction starting at SunCentral Maroochydore – Australia’s only greenfield CBD at this time – which will attract private investment; and the completion of key milestones at the $1.8 billion Sunshine Coast Public University Hospital.

“When completed in 2016, the hospital will help address the growing health needs of the Sunshine Coast and act as a catalyst for industry growth and commercial and residential development in the surrounding areas.

“The draft Sunshine Coast Airport Environmental Impact Statement has been completed and is back with the Coordinator General for review and the financing strategy for the project’s delivery has been developed.

“And the University of the Sunshine Coast’s $81 million expansion has been completed.

“Individually these are key regional projects, but collectively, they are game-changers which have a huge impact on our economy and its ability to grow.”

Mr Foster said the Sunshine Coast Economic Futures Board would continue to place a strong focus on the capital investment and leadership actions in the Strategy in the next 12 months. 

“This will drive our goal to secure investment in the region’s infrastructure and high-value industries and help build the region’s economy and employment opportunities,” Mr Foster said.

“Particular attention will be given to helping shape the region’s advocacy for federal and state government investment in the region’s critical road, rail and transport infrastructure which needs to be addressed to properly support economic and population growth.

“The Board will also focus its attention on assisting the region to build a targeted program to promote the region’s competitive advantages and investment opportunities to potential investors and priority markets.

“The right strategies are essential for the Sunshine Coast to further shape its developing profile in new domestic and global markets.

“The Board will also work with the new industry taskforces to help guide the implementation of industry and investment plans for the seven high-value industries.

“Our focus will be on providing guidance on potential avenues that the region may pursue to attract and generate new investment in these industries.

To read the Sunshine Coast – The Natural Advantage Regional Economic Development Strategy 2013-2033 Annual Report 2015, visit council's website.