Regional Australia Institute director Jack Archer has stressed the Shepparton region should focus on securing investment in the region’s industries and push to increase exports to Asia.
Mr Archer said businesses in the city and surrounding area had a great opportunity to grow.
‘‘The questions for people in the region are, have we taken advantage of that and, if not, what can we do to take advantage of that when it happens.’’
He questioned whether the region was capturing the investment potential possible and taking full advantage.
He also outlined key population opportunities for cities like Shepparton as being young people who have moved away and migrant populations.
‘‘In the smaller towns migrants are really important,’’ he said.
Mr Archer stressed young people who moved to the city to study before returning years later constituted a boon for areas such as the Goulburn Valley.
‘‘If they come back 10 years later, educated, with a partner and a couple of kids ... that’s a really good deal for the regions,’’ he said.
‘‘They might start a business... with their families ... if they bring their networks, their families with them.’’
He said people leaving the city and choosing to settle in regions had benefits far beyond the Goulburn Valley.
Mr Archer said some smaller rural towns were successfully reversing their economic fortunes partly due to local businesses being driven to succeed, and benefiting from migrant populations filling labour shortages.
‘‘The decline of a lot of small towns has been going on for 100 years,’’ he said.
‘‘We see some small towns bucking the trend.’’