The NSW government's 20-year plan for the region needs to be backed up with money.
That was the response to yesterday's release of the discussion paper The Illawarra Over the Next 20 Years.
The paper is the start of a year-long process before the state government releases a long-term plan for the region.
The general response from key groups and individuals was that while the planning was great, to be worthwhile it needed to be backed up with funding to turn the report's recommendations into reality.
Southern chapter chair of the Urban Development Institute of Australia, Glenn Colquhoun, said he believed the discussion paper was "on the mark" in terms of focusing on the key issues of housing, infrastructure and employment.
But he said the next step would be seeing the dollars coming into the region.
"I think plans are a fantastic thing and they've got to happen," Mr Colquhoun said.
"It's critical for us to develop within the framework of a plan. But it's got to have a commitment from all levels of government and it's got to be funded.
"There's no point in putting a plan together if it's an infrastructure plan and that infrastructure is not funded."
Mr Colquhoun believed the government was planning to follow up the report with action.
"Certainly it appears it's the government's intent to create a document that is usable and is funded," he said.
South Coast Labour Council secretary Arthur Rorris said he could understand why people might be cynical about this latest plan for the region because governments had gone down this planning route before.
"One of the criticisms we had of the previous government was that we ended up being probably the most highly studied and planned region on the planet," Mr Rorris said.
"We don't have a planning deficit in this region, we have a capital deficit.
"It's good to know that the government is planning for the future, that's part of their role. But that should not be a substitute for getting on with the job of actually building and improving our transport links, our infrastructure links, the things that our region needs."
Mr Rorris was concerned the government's planning process would not be finished until June, not long before its term finished.
"I guess our fear is that we hope that it's not just used as an excuse to say 'oh we've only just finished planning, we'll start doing it after the next election when you elect us again'," Mr Rorris said.
Keira MP Ryan Park said he hoped the 20-year plan was a precursor to the government funding the important items identified in its own plan.
"Long-term plans are important but they don't mean anything, and people will be very sceptical of them, if we're not seeing the investment in local services and infrastructure," he said.
"People know and have seen many long-term plans in the past - they haven't changed that much. What we need to see as locals is when this money will be delivered and the timelines for key projects and infrastructure investment."
Mr Park also noted that the discussion paper mentioned the importance of the NBN to the region, while the state government's federal Liberal colleagues had taken a very different view.
"We have on one side, Liberal local and state representatives screaming out for the NBN to be allocated in their areas and on the other hand, we have a federal Liberal opposition who have made very strong commitments that one of the first things they will do is not go ahead with the NBN," Mr Park said.
"It's amazing and I call on the Liberal Party to give certainty around their position and support the NBN."
Illawarra Business Chamber chief executive Debra Murphy felt reaching the job-creation target would be hard work.
"The regional growth plan discussion paper forecasts that the region will need an additional 24,250 jobs by 2031, which translates to around 25 new jobs per week over the next 18 years," Ms Murphy said.
People would have to look outside the region for work, she said.