A new, independent study has found that employment in Kempsey hasn’t been negatively impacted since the opening of the Pacific Highway Bypass four years ago.
The Kempsey Post Bypass Impacts Monitoring Study was conducted by leading Australian transport specialist Dr Bruno Parolin between May and June 2017 and is based on interviews with 124 businesses located along the former Pacific Highway corridor.
Since the opening of the bypass in 2013, the study found a 22 per cent growth in employment, with 249 new jobs created, bringing the total number of jobs to 1,386 and a gross annual revenue increase of $50 million (45 per cent) to $160 million.
Factors contributing to the growth include the opening of the Highway Service Centre at South Kempsey which has resulted in the creation of 170-200 jobs made up mostly of local residents, the continuing presence of construction workers, and the opening of the Slim Dusty Centre in 2015.
While businesses noted impacts of a general retail downturn, over 90 per cent of businesses said they haven’t been negatively affected by the bypass opening.
An overwhelming number of businesses also believe the Service Centre has had a positive effect on Kempsey’s economy.
“Since the completion of the bypass, many local businesses have made adjustments and embraced online marketing particularly social media sites like Facebook and Instagram to drive their online sales,” Dr Parolin said.
“It was very impressive to see how effectively they have used social media for marketing purposes. It goes to show the resilience of local businesses in the event of an economic shock such as a bypass.”
Council’s Manager of Economic Sustainability, Susannah Smith, said Council has identified the importance of online marketing.
“Council recently offered digital marketing training scholarships through NSW Government grant funding to 62 local businesses in the form of one-on-one mentoring and workshops with a renowned marketing expert,” she said.
“The workshops focussed on helping businesses develop strategies such as increasing their online presence and redeveloping their branding to increase their sales revenue.”
60 per cent of businesses also said the multi-million-dollar upgrade of Smith St had, had a positive impact on their business with an increase in foot traffic and sales.
Ms Smith said data from the study will be used to inform the 2017-27 Macleay Valley Economic Development Strategy and will also support future grant funding applications to encourage continued business growth and investment along the former highway corridor.