BlueScope factory closure will not kill Illawarra region: Terry Ryder

The Illawarra region can absorb the closure of Bluescope’s Port Kembla steel plant with only moderate impact on property prices, according to director Terry Ryder. 

His comments are at odds with some analysts’ predictions of a 20% drop in property prices on the back of the factory closure. 

“I don't think the BlueScope announcement will have a major impact on prices in the Illawarra region. The City of Wollongong has a population above 200,000 and while the BlueScope job losses don't help the local economy, the city is big enough to absorb it, particularly given the other, positive things that are happening,” Ryder says. 

“Manufacturing accounts for about 12% of jobs in Wollongong, and there are many other strong employment sectors. Tourism, retail, health care, education and construction are all big sectors in Wollongong.” 

Another positive, Ryder says, is that BHP will seek to employ many of those who lose their BlueScope jobs. 

Ryder points to comments from Phil Ruthven, chairman of research group IBISWorld, who said recently that he expected the Illawarra region to move increasingly away from manufacturing jobs and more towards a tourism-based economy. 

Ruthven expects that tourism alone will “probably replace all the manufacturing jobs you've got in steel ... over the next 20 years, or 10 years even”. 

“There's a substantial amount of new development happening in the region, including a $250 million shopping centre by GPT, a $315 million health facility, a $40 million apartment development and a Buddhist university campus,” Ryder says.

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger was a property writer at Property Observer


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