Supporting the Bell Bay Economic Development Committee
Bell Bay is an industrial zone and deep-water port in northern Tasmania. The Bell Bay Aluminium (formerly Comalco) smelter began production in 1955 and seven years later it was joined by the South 32 (formally TEMCO) manganese alloy plant. Initially established to take advantage of cheap hydro electricity, Bell Bay Aluminium and South 32 have stood their ground in an increasingly competitive market and gone on to become a cornerstone of the Tasmanian economy. The Bell Bay site now has over forty businesses involved in industrial and freight enterprises.
Since 2012 RDA Tasmania has been involved in a project looking at the economic sustainability of Bell Bay. The project involves a broad partnership made up of community, industry and government stakeholders and is coordinated by Bell Bay Aluminium. The major industries at Bell Bay are exposed to market trends that could force their closure and the subsequent closure of businesses within their value chain. The purpose of this project is to understand and pursue opportunities to diversify and develop the economy of Bell Bay.
The outcomes of this work include;
- helping the project partnership to clarify the topics associated with Bell Bay, identify gaps not picked up in current plans, and connect stakeholders with issues and opportunities.
- engaging stakeholders across all levels of government and stimulating direct activity to assist Bell bay
- RDA Tasmania improving its own understanding of the issues at Bell Bay, demonstrating our capability in applied research, building relationships with regional stakeholders and most importantly facilitating initiatives that will provide Bell Bay with more confidence in its future.
RDA Tasmania is valued by this partnership for our awareness and understanding of policies and plans across the whole of government that have implications for Tasmanian communities and industries. Following a workshop facilitated by Tom Black, Chair of RDA Tasmania, we identified we could adopt the Regional Plan methodology to the project to help the partnership understand its context.
In constructing our own Regional Plan, RDA Tasmania conducts a strategic analysis of the region, summarises priorities and identifies activities that will deliver regional development. This approach was adopted and rescaled for Bell Bay. It involved reviewing 15 different planning and policy documents and stakeholder interviews. Research methodology assistance was provided by the University of Tasmania and on their recommendation the N-Vivo program was used to record and organise information. From the 15 documents reviewed, 412 items of information were highlighted that could be classified into 82 different categories. The information collected provides a comprehensive list of topics about Bell Bay and summarises many of the issues and opportunities that need to be addressed.