Before COVID-19, Melbourne was recognised as one of the world’s most competitive and resilient economies and was home to 497,000 jobs. Following the pandemic, it’s projected the economy will lose 79,000 jobs and up to $110 billion in output over the next five years.

With the right policy settings, it is possible for the City of Melbourne to recover rapidly from the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The draft Economic Development Strategy outlines our plan for sustainable economic growth. The decisions made today will determine the shape of the city’s economy in 10 years’ time and the opportunities available to future generations.

The draft strategy presents key findings from research on the City of Melbourne’s economy and the significant impact of COVID-19. It details our immediate recovery and reactivation approach, as well as our proposals for sustained economic prosperity in the medium and long term.

It has been developed through a detailed consultation process, drawing on the expertise within our organisation and our economic consultants, as well as more than 40 interviews with key industry and community stakeholders and Victorian and Australian Government representatives. In November and December 2020, we held two co-design workshops with 90 attendees.

We are now seeking further feedback on the priorities and actions we are proposing.

Our vision

By 2031 the City of Melbourne will be a global leader in creating jobs and enterprises that focus on the needs of the future.

We will steer the city’s recovery from COVID-19 and create prosperity that can be shared more equitably through investment in the city’s long-term economic growth, social cohesion and environmental resilience.

The wealth and knowledge generated by our economy will support the city to achieve its economic and social objectives, creating a stable foundation for sustained economic prosperity.

Key priorities

Eight key priorities articulate the ways we will work to achieve our overarching economic goals. Under these priorities are a number of proposed actions.

Our eight key priorities

A business-friendly city

Building the recovery on new business formation, investment and growth.

A creative resurgence

Designing a new value proposition for the city.

Post-COVID 3000

Increasing the supply of housing for city workers.

Beyond the office

Stimulating a mix of industries through precincts and innovation.

Unlock climate capital

Transitioning to a leading low-carbon economy.

Diverse city

Growing Melbourne’s diversity as an asset to society and the economy.

Digitally connected city

Adapting to connectivity as a knowledge-enabled, smart city.

A joint effort

Collaborating for a thriving city economy.

Actions and timeframes

These actions will unfold across three timeframes:

  • Immediate – the next 12 months
  • Medium term – the next four years
  • Long term – beyond four years.

We also indicate how the City of Melbourne will implement these actions, by delivering ourselves (deliver), collaborating with others (partner) or advocating for change (advocate).

1. Deliver an enhanced Business Concierge service that will assist city businesses to navigate council processes and regulations and be the first port of call for business enquiries. (Deliver in immediate timeframe.)

2. Facilitate major new investment proposals – especially global headquarters and research and development centres – through the establishment of Invest Melbourne, which will offer assistance to identify suitable locations and streamlined planning and permitting. (Deliver and partner in medium timeframe.)

3. Provide coordinated support for Melbourne’s innovation, entrepreneurship and startup ecosystem, including international enterprises, to encourage business development and capacity building.(Deliver and partner in immediate timeframe.)

4. Digitise City of Melbourne permits and streamline processes – for example, by digitising construction and business permits and statutory planning processes. (Deliver in medium timeframe.)

5. Implement mechanisms for delivering affordable commercial and creative workspaces, to ensure a productive mix of industries and businesses. (Partner in medium timeframe.)

6. Facilitate startups and entrepreneurs in Melbourne to connect with international investment and commercialisation opportunities, particularly in Asia. (Partner in medium timeframe.)

7. Deliver a collaborative program with local partners in social enterprise, social impact, hybrid business models, blended finance instruments and capital raising, to grow the impact investing market in Melbourne’s precincts. (Deliver and partner in medium timeframe.)

8. Support Melbourne’s creative industries through adaptive reuse and activation of precincts and vacant spaces throughout the city. (Partner in immediate timeframe.)

9. Through a new tourism entity called Visit Melbourne, we will position Melbourne as the premier international and domestic visitor destination in Australia. We will promote the breadth of our original, inspiring and unique experiences, and attract and deliver an exciting major events program throughout the calendar year. (Deliver and partner in medium timeframe.)

10. Draw on advice from the Night-time Economy Advisory Committee to ensure that the central city economy responds to the impacts of COVID-19. (Deliver in immediate timeframe.)

11. Collaborate with the Victorian Government and arts organisations on the development of the Melbourne Arts Precinct to ensure there is investment in all aspects of the arts, including affordable workspaces, rehearsal spaces, galleries and performance spaces. (Partner in long timeframe.)

12. Continue to collaborate with the music industry to support and protect all aspects of the city’s music ecosystem through industry development and regulation. (Deliver and partner in medium timeframe.)

13. Work with the Victorian Government to facilitate investment in Docklands, including the redevelopment of Central Pier and Docklands Media Precinct, to establish it as a destination, extension of the central city, and emerging film and digital media hub. (Deliver and partner in long timeframe.)

14. Continue to invest in Aboriginal artists and organisations, and support diversity in the arts through inclusive funding models. (Partner in medium timeframe.)

15. Collaborate with peak arts organisations on industry insights into how to sustain the city's visual art, craft, performance, dance, literature and music industries. (Partner in medium timeframe.)

16. Support the recovery of the creative community through the delivery of funding models that enable development and online work. (Deliver in immediate timeframe.)

17. Deliver a marketing and communications strategy that will promote the central city as a great place to live. (Deliver in medium timeframe.)

18. Implement the affordable housing strategy 2020-30, including:

    • Support Homes Victoria to purchase vacant properties in existing residential, developments for use as affordable rental housing.
    • Deliver more affordable rental housing on City of Melbourne land.
    • Prioritise investment in City of Melbourne as part of Victoria’s Big Housing Build, particularly in our urban renewal areas.
    • Work with the Victorian Government to introduce higher affordable housing requirements in all urban renewal precincts. (Deliver and partner in medium timeframe.)

19. Commit to a new partnership between Homes Victoria and the City of Melbourne, through its proposed new entity, Homes Melbourne, to deliver significant affordable and energy-efficient housing in the municipality. (Deliver and partner in medium timeframe.)

20. Advocate for the Victorian Government to drive demand for existing city property in the immediate term with measures such as:

    • A 100 per cent stamp duty exemption for new and existing central city property for two years, to lower market entry cost.
    • Remove land tax on build-to-rent developments for two years, to increase supply of rental housing.
    • Remove the foreign purchaser additional duty for two years. (Advocate in immediate timeframe.)

21. Work with the Victorian Government to stimulate a pipeline of medium-to long-term central city construction projects by:

    • Establishing a joint Victorian Government / City of Melbourne planning taskforce as an interim measure to fast-track planning assessment and approvals for all applications over 25,000 sqm.
    • Supporting City of Melbourne delivering planning fast-track processes including easing change of use for approved permits to maximise flexibility.
    • Committing to unlocking under-used government land for development by the market or for strategic infrastructure investment. (Deliver and partner in immediate timeframe.)

22. Support the growth of technology sectors that have the capacity to be globally competitive, including – biotech, medtech, advanced manufacturing and engineering. (Partner in medium timeframe.)

23. Facilitate the development of more affordable commercial spaces through direct investment and planning mechanisms, including specialised spaces such as wetlabs and research infrastructure. (Deliver and partner in medium timeframe.)

24. Curate and coordinate the growth and development of existing, emerging and new globally competitive innovation districts in City North, Arden and Fishermans Bend. (Partner in long timeframe.)

25. Partner with industry and the Victorian and Australian governments to develop our innovation ecosystems, through international engagement, emerging technology trials, digital infrastructure delivery and more. (Partner in long timeframe.)

26. Advocate for the Victorian Government to commit to delivering integrated public and active transport in urban renewal areas, including Melbourne Metro 2 and trams to Fishermans Bend and the Arden precinct. (Advocate in medium timeframe.)

27. Create a health and biotech innovation hub to accelerate commercialisation activity. (Partner in long timeframe.)

28. Establish Melbourne as a leading market for innovative climate change solutions, by working on sustainable finance mechanisms, promoting ambitious projects that grow the local supply chain and demonstrating how to scale-up solutions. (Partner in medium timeframe.)

29. Explore public-private partnerships to develop climate change solutions and leverage private equity investment. (Deliver and partner in medium timeframe.)

30. Support small businesses and startups that demonstrate positive social and environmental impacts, through incubators and investment programs. (Deliver in medium timeframe.)

31. Launch a Sustainable Development Goal investing initiative in partnership with Melbourne-based institutional investors, to explore investment opportunities and hurdles, and serve as a leading city learning platform related to the goals. (Deliver and partner in medium timeframe.)

32. Support the recovery and resurgence of our international education sector, by rebuilding Melbourne’s reputation among students and their peers, communities and visiting parents through:

    • Establishing a ‘One-Stop Digital Community to foster digital connection.
    • Developing a special way to welcome and support returning as well as new and continuing students, graduates and alumni.
    • Advocating for access to transport concessions.
    • Advocating for a standardised accommodation accreditation system.
    • Connecting students with distinct elements of our local culture and history.
    • Advocate for full return of international return of international students in 2022. (Deliver, partner and advocate in medium timeframe.)

33. Leverage diaspora and alumni communities to strengthen international relationships and facilitate foreign investment. (Partner in medium timeframe.)

34. Partner with industry and government to support the entrepreneurial efforts of international students, new migrants and female entrepreneurs. (Partner in medium timeframe.)

35. Review Melbourne’s International Engagement Strategy to ensure that future partnerships enable mutual growth and opportunity. (Partner in medium timeframe.)

36. Deliver initiatives to support Aboriginal enterprises, increasing the profile of Aboriginal culture in the municipality. (Deliver in immediate timeframe.)

37. Work with the Victorian Government to facilitate adoption of high-speed digitalisation by Melbourne businesses, to maximise productivity and competitiveness. (Partner in medium timeframe.)

38. Establish a City Intelligence Hub that builds on City of Melbourne’s open data platform, digitises our operations through digital twins, and models Industry 4.0 adoption. (Deliver and partner in medium timeframe.)

39. Enhance our libraries, open data platform, open innovation agenda, skills development and educational programs, and expand knowledge sharing such as Melbourne Knowledge Week festival and Melbourne Conversations events. (Deliver and partner in medium timeframe.)

40. Deliver the Melbourne City Revitalisation Fund, a joint initiative of the City of Melbourne and the Victorian Government, to support the economic recovery of the municipality. (Partner in immediate timeframe.)

41. Seek to establish a formal governance mechanism or entity to coordinate economic development in the central city, involving all levels of government and other key institutions. (Partner in immediate timeframe.)

Economic Development Strategy