Coles backs Ipswich – good investment given strong population growth

Coles has announced it is building three new stores in Ipswich, obviously recognising the strong current and projected population growth in the region (Coles project to bring new stores and 700 jobs to Ipswich). While Ipswich is currently around the same population as Townsville (172,000 vs 180,000), for example, it is expected to rapidly surpass Townsville in the coming years, growing to over half a million people by 2036 (see chart below).

populationI’ve previously commented on the strong growth potential in Ipswich (Ipswich will play important role in eventual recovery of Qld building industry) and was interviewed by Katherine Feeney, then at Brisbane Times, on the issue last year:

Ipswich key to Queensland’s building sector recovery

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4 Responses to Coles backs Ipswich – good investment given strong population growth

  1. Jen says:

    Looking forward to the Coles at Orion, Springfield.

  2. Gene Tunny says:

    Thanks Jen. It’s a great shopping centre already and Coles will make it even better.

  3. Jim says:

    Gene

    I don’t find it surprising that Coles has made this move. They have seen the potential of Ipswich as a high growth market. The post also provides a bit of segue to an issue we’ve discussed before….

    Areas like Ipswich and Logan are the engine rooms for growth of non-professional jobs and labour capacity in SEQ.

    What I do find a little bemusing is the fact that, while the population and labour pool in SEQ has become increasingly disbursed across SEQ, the Queensland public service has become increasingly concentrated in the Brisbane CBD (and inner South Brisbane). I can understand that there may be synergies/efficiencies in having senior policy makers (and some professionals) in close proximity. But I cannot understand the rationale for having such a high proportion of the public servants that do back office administrative functions being located in the CBD.

    I’ve done some back of the envelope number crunching and estimate that up to 8,000 public servants in the CBD are probably performing administrative functions that could be performed from anywhere in the State. These are the jobs that the private sector outsources to India, Thailand, China etc. The gradual transition of these roles to teams based in suburban and regional centers could provide a win-win-win situation as:

    1) it makes fiscal sense (lower office rents, allows for better use of Government-owned buildings in regional centers, or opens up opportunities to sell buildings in the Brisbane CBD)
    2) staff can work where they live (good social and environmental outcomes)
    3) some pressure is taken off the Brisbane CBD (less congestion, less pressure on rents for the private sector etc.).

    Note this is different to moving a whole department to Ipswich (like Seqwater). Moving whole departments as a decentralisation strategy has been a major failure in Victoria and NSW. The emphasis above is on moving specific functions that can be moved without decreasing service levels, while achieving cost savings.

    If the State Government is seeking efficiency measures that don’t compromise services, they could take a much harder look at the way they spatially organise their workforce.

    • Gene Tunny says:

      Really good points, Jim. Your estimate of 8,000 sounds plausible. At the same time as considering whether to move back office admin jobs to the regions, we could consider whether we really need the jobs at all and whether we might be able find efficiencies.

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