From the editor

HBR clip
With this issue including a feature on Newcastle Renewal, it is an opportune time to consider the lessons we have learned, the opportunities opening up for Newcastle and the challenges we must be aware of.
The explosion of investor interest in Newcastle after the announcement of the closure of the inner city heavy rail in December 2012 provides an excellent example of the need for Governments to make decisions and provide certainty of policy.
Investors simply abhor uncertainty and Governments must remain aware of the need for them to make prompt decisions so that all concerned know where they stand and can make sound decisions. In today’s increasingly global environment, this is more vital than ever, with investment alternatives quite likely to be overseas, not just elsewhere in Australia. Indeed, in many ways even “investor unfriendly” decisions are better than no decision – at least investors know where the goalposts are and can make informed decisions on project viability and be more aware of the challenges they may face.
 
Conversely, it highlights the damage inaction by Governments can cause economic growth, particularly in such a rapidly changing world.
The amount of investment in Newcastle and the additional coverage it is receiving domestically and overseas is highlighting the way forward for the city and the new identity it is building.
After the closure of BHP, Newcastle realised that it had to reinvent itself and did so much more successfully than the doomsayers predicted. But it is only really in recent years that the new identity of a more diverse, collaborative and knowledge-focussed centre has truly come to the fore. And the good news it has shown that we shouldn’t be settled with second best. Newcastle can continue to grow and be truly recognised as modern city, embracing innovation and diversity to deliver economic growth and opportunity combined with a great lifestyle.
 
Change does of course have its challenges and we need to keep this in mind as we move forward. Fear is the most motivating factor for humans and change always has a degree of the unknown and can take us out of our comfort zone. Many people simply don’t like change, focussing on the negatives before they consider the advantages. We need to ensure that change is inclusive of all portions of community, so we feel we are part of the process rather and the extent of the unknowns is reduced.
Fears and concerns must be acknowledged and addressed.
Businesses and individuals that are being truly disadvantaged by the change should be engaged with and actively helped to cope with or overcome their issues. Finally, although we are experiencing rapid change in Newcastle, we can’t forget our past and values that have been our strength for more than 200 years.
It is truly an exciting time for Newcastle and the potential for the city and the wider Hunter is very high. We need to proceed with speed but also with care to allow the City and region to reach its full potential for the benefit of local businesses and Hunter residents.