Wollongong community and business leaders have met for the first time to discuss ways of getting the city back on track after the COVID-19 crisis.
Deputy mayor Tania Brown, who called for the taskforce at February's Wollongong City Council meeting, said it was "a really good discussion as a starting point", with talks focusing on what organisations were doing, the priority areas, and gaps to be filled.
Cr Brown said it was clear that skills would be a priority area, especially having a skilled workforce that could meet the needs of the hydrogen and energy sector.
Cr Brown said it was recognised that the energy sector was a big opportunity for Wollongong.
Stu Taggart, who will oversee the delivery of the UCI World Road Championships in Wollongong next year, presented on the opportunities that the international cycling event presented for the the city, by way of the visitor economy and legacy infrastructure.
"This is a huge opportunity we all need to be aware of," Cr Brown said.
The decentralisation of jobs was also discussed, Cr Brown said, and Wollongong's position as a "hybrid hub" - that is, a place where companies could have regional bases for employees to work from, rather than commute - gave it a unique opportunity in terms of the future of work.
As for the gaps, she said affordable housing was an issue.
"It's an issue for key workers... how we will address that challenge is the next piece," Cr Brown said.
The COVID-19 recovery taskforce includes such entities as Business Illawarra, Regional Development Australia Illawarra, Destination Wollongong, i3net, the Community Industry Group, an employment facilitator, and the council, including its general manager and senior executive.
"I think it was a really important conversation that we started," Cr Brown, who represented Destination Wollongong, said.
"We know when we talk with one voice we have a much better chance of government listening."
Cr Brown said it was important to have an evidence-based narrative to present to government.
The taskforce will run for a year, and will next meet in July.
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