IN the end, numbers are numbers. It’s what you do with them that counts.
And the picture painted by Regional Australia Insititute editor in chief Amanda Barwick has Moree breaking the mould and getting innovative.
Ms Barwick opened this month’s The Next Crop forum by introducing the Insitute’s [In]sight demographic data tool – and what it says about Moree.
[In]sight is an online interactive map that uses and organises Census data across a number of themes to unlock insights on regional performance.
Regions are given rankings out of 560 for each factor, a comparison to all other local government areas in the country, including in major cities.
It is a way to look at your strengths and look at your weaknesses
The latest version of the program is set to be released release in the coming weeks, but Ms Barwick gave the Moree audience a taste of what the new data says about Moree.
Since 2011 - where Moree’s labor participation rate, and high industrial value saw it ranked 218 in the nation for economic fundamentals – it has climbed to 206 in the nation for that factor.
More people are moving to the region with science, technology and mathematics skills, and there’s been a particular rise in people with skills in intensive business services, moving Moree’s ranking from 241 to 171 in five years.
“These are the types of roles you need in the community to grow business and grow jobs,” Ms Barwick said.
There’s also been a jump in the number of business advisors in town between 2011 and 2016, a factor that Ms Barwick said could indicate economic growth and diversity.
“The economy has become more diverse in the last five years,” Ms Barwick said.
“In terms of the Business Dynamo indicator, your ranking has moved from 278 to 233. (That) looks at the number of new business entries into Moree, the number of business owners-managers in your region and trademark applications.
[In]sight also showed, like many regional NSW areas, Moree’s population declined – albeit slightly.
That’s a challenge faced by many North-West communities, including Walgett and Bourke, who also see a positive growth rate and good overseas migration, but a larger numbers of residents leaving town.
Also unsurprising is a jump in the proportion of over 65s in Moree.
But again, Ms Barwick said the number are what you make them.
“Ultimately they are just stats,” she said.
“They pose a lot of questions and that can be good. It is a way to look at your strengths and look at your weaknesses and see what you want to work on.”