INFRASTRUCTURE - Illawarra Over The Next 20 Years
A piece of infrastructure being put into place could make a huge difference to the Illawarra's future.
That infrastructure is the National Broadband Network (NBN), now being rolled out across the region.
The discussion paper The Illawarra Over The Next 20 Years claims information and communication technology (ICT) such as the NBN could provide benefits in a host of areas including health and aged-care services, education and training facilities and home-based businesses.
"The growth of ICT infrastructure will also help promote the region as a centre for research and knowledge-based industries," the paper said.
Regional director for southern region for Planning NSW Brett Whitworth said the NBN could also change the commuting profile of the Illawarra - at present 17 per cent of Illawarra workers commute to Sydney.
"What I think we're going to find is people will still commute to Sydney but they might do it three to four days a week but one or two days they'll work from home because they'll want to enjoy the benefits the Illawarra can bring in terms of lifestyle," Mr Whitworth said.
"The high-speed broadband will help them do that.
"It gives them greater connectivity to Sydney so they can effectively telecommute."
With existing infrastructure, in terms of economic impact, the port of Port Kembla and University of Wollongong are leading.
"The port of Port Kembla continues to be one of the most important infrastructure assets to the region and will need to be maximised to expand job opportunities," the discussion paper said.
Mr Whitworth said the economic importance of the university to the region was continuing to grow.
"It is an important economic generator of activity in its own right with the number of students and the number of academics that it has," Mr Whitworth said.
"But also, there's the research that it undertakes, the ability that it has to leverage that research and connect to industry and so on.
"I think the Innovation Campus is a really good example of how you can bring together that sort of applied nature of research and activity. Taking the academic and the commercial, and blending them together at the Innovation Campus.
"It's one of the reasons that the Innovation Campus is nominated as one of those potentially important economic precincts for the future growth of the region."