Located on Australia's eastern seaboard, Coffs Harbour is a tapestry of mountains, national parks, sandy beaches, quaint villages and marine reserves. Its natural bounty and busy regional airport have made it a highly desirable tourist and retirement destination. They have also granted Coffs Harbour less desirable gifts: a population that skews older than the Australian average and an economy dominated by healthcare, social assistance and seasonal accommodation, food services and retailing. As a result, the city has a markedly smaller proportion of high-income households and higher proportion of low-income households than the Australian average.
In 2009, the Council established a 2030 Strategic Plan, based on yearlong community consultation, to create a more vibrant future for this city on the sea. More than a decade earlier Nineties, Council made the decision to invest in a fiber-optic network to connect all governmental facilities. This proved persuasive to the national government, which named Coffs Harbour as one of 19 second-wave deployment zones for the National Broadband Network. Service to the first 2,600 homes was switched on in February of 2013.
To prepare Coffs Harbour for a broadband future, the community launched a Digital Enterprise program to train local businesses and institutions in digital technologies. It launched pilot programs in telemedicine, with a special focus on at-home care of seniors with chronic health issues. An Innovation Centre opened to provide office space, mentoring and incubation of new businesses, and the city focused on building working partnerships with its university and technical schools to engage students and graduates in local opportunity. It also launched art and cultural festivals that had the dual effect of strengthening the tourist economy while enriching quality of life. These steps are laying an impressive foundation for an economy that attracts and retains creative people and innovative organizations who will build a stronger future.