Revitalising Wollongong's CBD and building the Shell Cove marina have headed the list of New Year's resolutions from the region's business and civic leaders.
Representatives from councils, business groups and unions say they hope 2013 brings renewal to the Illawarra, with their new year plans focusing on urban growth, new projects and making the most of the region's natural assets.
Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said his first challenge for 2013 would be finding a solution to the controversial Gleniffer Brae site but his overall focus would be continuing Crown Street Mall's revamp.
"In 2012 we really got out there and marketed the city ... and now I think we are seeing quite a few cranes on the landscape and businesses coming," he said.
Shellharbour Mayor Marianne Saliba will hang her hat on seeing construction start on the Shell Cove marina and shoring up her council's financial stability.
Property Council of Australia Illawarra chairman David Laing called for an ambitious revitalisation plan for Wollongong's CBD, as well as a "comprehensive" regional plan.
"There are success stories all around the world where regions have worked under one voice and one plan with a common voice and they have thrived," he said.
He also hoped the region's traditional industries would flourish and more opportunities emerge in areas such as health, aged care, lifestyle and tourism.
South Coast Labour Council secretary Arthur Rorris said he would focus on preventing widespread job losses that plagued the region in 2012.
He said stabilising the Illawarra's job opportunities would depend on "big ticket items" like fast rail and the Maldon-Dombarton freight line coming to fruition, and urged business leaders and the wider community to unite to lobby "all levels of government".
"I never make resolutions with the hope that they will just happen. I make them on the basis that people will make them happen and that's what we need to do this year," Mr Rorris said.
Illawarra Business Chamber chief executive Mike Leask said the fate of the region's small businesses was largely tied up in the outcome of this year's federal election.
He predicted an uncertain first half of 2013 for Illawarra businesses and said the chamber would lobby for reduced red tape for small businesses.