Economic Development Strategy

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Our vision is for the Western Downs to be a strong, resilient and diverse economy with strengthened liveability by 2028.  

Council is committed to ensuring our children and future generations can live, work, study and play, and have the opportunity to do what they love whilst enjoying a regional lifestyle. 

Council’s five-year Economic Development Strategy (2023 to 2028) addresses critical issues and clearly articulates a strategic pathway for the Western Downs to diversify and grow its economy, building on the region’s competitive advantage and further attracting business and investment in value-adding opportunities and emerging markets. All whilst improving our region's liveability to ensure that residents can enjoy quality services, and a regional lifestyle.

Click to view the Economic Development strategy(PDF, 8MB)

Economic Development Strategy GraphicThe Economic Development Strategy focuses on five key pillars: Jobs and SkillsLiveability and InfrastructurePopulationProductivity and Innovation; and Sustainability and Resilience. Zoning in on these five pillars will ensure the Western Downs is a diverse region at the forefront of the changing world - you can find out more about these key pillars at the links below.

This strategic vision aligns with Western Downs Regional Council’s Corporate Plan 2021-2026

Pillar 1: Jobs and Skills

The Western Downs workforce is growing, optimised, and fit for the future. 

Council Economic Development team enables youth employment opportunities, supports local business’ recruitment beyond traditional workforce and increases local training opportunities, enabling ‘study in place’.  

How are we tracking?

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Increasing jobs and strengthening skills across the region is an important part of the Economic Development strategy, and Council is already achieving key goals for this pillar by delivering and supporting fantastic initiatives for the Western Downs. 

Council’s Economic Development team have focused on key projects devoted to the development of jobs and skills for residents across the region since adopting the strategy last year (2023). 

Some of these fundamental programs include: 

  • Delivering the Skilling Queenslanders for Work program – this initiative (funded by the Department of Employment, Small Business and Training) is community-led and auspiced by Council.  This program provides training and support to ten (10) unemployed / underemployed persons in Tara. 

  • Supporting regional BEST Groups – BEST groups were created by the Department of Employment, Small Business and Training (DESBT) to ‘Bring Employers and Schools Together’, and Council currently supports these groups in Dalby and Chinchilla to encourage engagement and education between high school students and local employers. Current initiatives include the Small Business Industry Dinner (Dalby), Ignite Your Future Tour (Chinchilla) and Career Expos (Dalby & Chinchilla).  

  • Delivering YES! Summit – this exciting event was delivered successfully in Chinchilla to encourage, inspire and empower youth of the region to embrace opportunities and expand their career aspirations.  

Whilst goals to decrease youth unemployment and increase workforce participation have already been met, Council is committed to continuing this success and ensuring Jobs and Skills across the region continue to go from strength to strength.  


Please ensure to subscribe to the Economic Development newsletter to stay up to date on initiatives which are organised throughout the year to enable and support jobs and skills in the region.  

As further assistance to enable development of young entrepreneurs in our region, Council offers a free ten-part Western Downs Youth Business Program steps through some of the key things you need to know to launch a business as a young person – including building your own Business Models Canvas, branding, marketing, competitor analysis, nailing your value proposition, funding, pitching and more.

This brand new program is delivered in partnership between Western Downs Regional Council and Future Anything.

Access the Youth Business Program Here

Pillar 2: Liveability and Infrastructure 

Road.jpg The Western Downs is equipped with modern infrastructure and quality essential services across the region to enable liveability and wellbeing, whilst sustaining population growth.  

Council's Corporate Plan 2021 - 2026 sets out Council's strategic priorities and outlines the successes we are aspiring to achieve while also outlining key strategic issues that Council will advocate for on behalf of the community.

Council's advocacy efforts aim to raise local issues that are beyond the role and responsibility of Local Government, to obtain support from State Government and Federal Government or other stakeholders and enable positive change.

How are we tracking?

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To support the community and expanding population of the Western Downs, Council has been continuing to advocate for key liveability challenges on behalf of the region. Advocacy is a key part of Council’s corporate plan and will remain a priority to progress. 

Council has also expanded the housing incentive policy while endorsing the Dalby CBD Development Prospectus to provide potential development concepts to enhance housing availability. 

These efforts have been made to highlight issues and encourage resolutions to ensure goals within this pillar of the Economic Development strategy are on track to be achieved.  


Housing Development Opportunities

One of the key strategies of the Economic Development Strategy involves enabling increased housing supply for rent and sale, and diversity of stock.

The Western Downs region covers an area of 37,937km2, with a population of 34,542 people. This is expected to rise to 36,999 by 2046 (source). The current dwelling types do not meet the needs of the increasingly diverse future demographic and predicted increase in single or couple households.

Currently, housing across the region is in short supply, and rental vacancies are below 2%. A significant boost to housing supply is needed in the coming years to accommodate the increase in population, with a rising need for semi-detached and apartment housing along with medium to high density options. 

Through the development of the Local Housing Action Plan, Council has developed a multi-pronged approach to support more housing investment and ensure housing rates are adequate for the future needs of our region.  

Key actions from the Local Housing Action Plan include an update of the Housing and Land Incentive Policy and release of the Dalby CBD development investment prospectus.

Read more about these three documents, as well as Council's other housing development incentives, below.

Local Housing Action Plan

The Western Downs Regional Council Local Housing Action Plan(DOCX, 8MB) is developed with the support of the Queensland Government and in association with the Local Government Association of Queensland to respond to a range of immediate, emerging and longer-term housing challenges in the Western Downs. Insights from the Western Downs Futures group has also informed the formulation of the Plan.


Council is committed to engage in the delivery of its initial Local Housing Action Plan through priority actions across the areas of: 

  • Land and development 
  • Planning scheme review 
  • Optimization
  • Master planning 
  • Supports 
  • People in need 
  • Construction 
  • Capital solutions (see the next tab for more information on the Dalby CDB development investment prospectus) 


This Local Housing Action Plan aims to support a strong response to emergent housing needs that support better housing outcomes into the future. 

Housing and Land Incentive

The Housing and Land Incentive is designed to encourage residents and developers with a vision to construct units or subdivide land to bring their project to reality by offering generous application fee discounts and discounted infrastructure charges to approved developments across the region. 

Key updates to the Housing and Land Incentive include increasing the incentive from $1 Million to $5 million, extending the timeframe to 31 December 2025, expanding eligibility and removing some restrictions.  

Read more about the Housing and Land Incentive

The Western Downs is a great place to live. There is high demand for housing, and the potential for returns on housing developments is high. We encourage you to get in contact with the team to discuss further opportunities in the Western Downs. 

Dalby CBD Concept Masterplan

In an effort to increase housing stock for rent and sale, and in particular, improve the diversity of housing across the region, Council has released the Dalby CBD Development Investment Prospectus. The concepts in this prospectus are designed to provide realistic, application-ready examples of how the Housing and Land Incentive could be applied and showcase different types of developments that our community needs. These concepts are not prescriptive and could be adapted to suit different applications or locations within Dalby. Dalby CBD Concept Masterplan Site 2.jpg  

For almost 150 years, the Dalby CBD has been an important commercial and retail hub for the Western Downs and maintains a strong country town feel, but Council recognises that is has the potential to be so much more. Mixed use developments, residential CBD living in medium rises, and general contemporary commercial stock are all in high demand and are the next logical development for the Dalby CBD. The opportunity to invest in the west in now. 

This initiative is supported by Dalby Chamber of Commerce and Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise. 

Pillar 3: Population

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The Western Downs demonstrates population growth to meet workforce demands.  

Whether it’s for the work opportunities or the lifestyle, this region had one of the highest growth rates in Queensland (RAI data, 2022) – and it’s not hard to see why. With a welcoming atmosphere, country charm (mingled with modern ventures!), affordable cost of living, and a wide range of facilities, the Western Downs really does offer the complete package to residents. 

Western Downs Regional Council is a member of the Regional Activators Alliance and Move to More Campaign, actively promoting the Western Downs region, employment opportunities and lifestyle beyond its borders. 

How are we tracking?

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Population means people – and it’s the people that make it on the Western Downs. That's why Council is committed to maintaining high satisfaction standard living and supporting labour force and resident population of the region.  

A key element of supporting and attracting population of the region has been the delivery of LIVE Western Downs in partnership with Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise. This fantastic initiative is delivered to showcase the immense strengths of the Western Downs and the countless advantages of calling the region home.  

Council has also delivered workforce attraction campaigns to expand population and further the region’s strong diverse economy. 

Over the next few years, Council will continue to expand, strengthen and support population of the Western Downs.  



Pillar 4: Productivity and Innovation

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The Western Downs is a recognised leader in agribusiness, energy, manufacturing and local productivity continues to increase.  

Business is booming in the Western Downs and it’s not just us who think so, we’ve been crowned one of Australia's fastest growing regional economies over the past five years. The stats speak for themselves with a growing Gross Regional Product (GRP) thanks to the energy, construction, agriculture and manufacturing industries flourishing within our borders. 

The Western Downs is trademarked as the “Energy Capital of Queensland”, and has the industry to prove it with coal mining, coal seam gas, wind and solar renewable energy facilities. Further expansion of coal seam gas and renewable energy projects throughout the region form part of the next wave of energy development, and promises to keep the uplift in regional development alive in the Western Downs. 

Retail developments outside the energy space further evidence on-going investment in the Western Downs with retail heavy-weights, Bunnings Warehouse and Aldi Supermarket, taking leaseholds in Dalby. 

How are we tracking?

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The Western Downs is home to a diverse range of businesses and is abundant in large essential industries so it’s no surprise productivity and innovation across the region is plentiful.  

Council is committed to increasing productivity and innovation and has delivered many strong initiatives focused on business growth for the region. Some of the key initiatives of this pillar include: 

  • Manufacturing Conference – a free one-day event designed to shine a light on the manufacturing sector and showcase key strengths and opportunities for improvement and innovation 
  • Ag Jobs Fair – a dedicated jobs fair focused on opportunities within the region’s strong agriculture industry 

  • Chamber of Commerce partnering – offering partnerships to local chambers to support established businesses within the region 

  • Business Disaster Resilience Program – a funded program aimed to build disaster resilience for the Western Downs 

  • Buy Western Downs – a refreshed platform and campaign to continue to promote local buy within the region to support established businesses  

Whilst expectations of the Economic Development strategy are already being met, Council is committed to continuing to provide excellent initiatives to support this pillar. 



Pillar 5: Sustainability and Resilience

Ariel View of solar panelsThe Western Downs is future proofed for a changing climate and transitioning economies, and circular economy principles are demonstrated. 

The Western Downs is proudly trademarked the Energy Capital of Queensland.  

What’s fueling the energy sector’s growth is the combination of the Western Downs’ geography and environmental conditions, along with existing transmission infrastructure. This has meant there are opportunities for energy providers to interstate connectors and transmission lines. 

Being home to significant renewables developments, the Western Downs plays a vital role in the delivery of the Queensland Climate Action of 70% renewable energy by 2032 and zero net emissions by 2050. 

Western Downs Regional Council is committed to further lead the way, and to do so, will undertake a carbon emissions study of both Council as an organisation and the region as a whole. This study will guide and inform opportunities to reduce carbon emissions.  

How are we tracking?

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As the Energy Capital of Queensland, sustainability and resilience is an important part of our current operations and will define the region’s future.  

Currently, Council is on track to achieving goals to promote environmental and social governance by endorsing the Communities Partnering Framework. This will set clear direction for the private sector to support, engage and partner with the region’s community to ensure future generations continue to thrive on the Western Downs.  

Council also engaged in a regional carbon emissions review last year (2023) to measure the region’s current carbon footprint and identify opportunities to achieve the net-zero goal of the future.