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State-led urban regeneration in an ordinary city: The case of Geelong, Australia

Authors: Louise Johnson*, , Tom Barnes, Australian Catholic University, Sally Weller, University of South Australia
Topics: Economic Geography, Australia and New Zealand, Urban and Regional Planning
Keywords: Urban regeneration, Ordinary cities, Regional Cities, Australia
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

This paper examines the impact of crisis-management interventions on local business, city infrastructure, local labour markets and accepted conceptualisations of smaller cities. The account focuses on the regional city of Geelong, in Victoria Australia, which in 2016 faced an uncertain figure when its dominant employer - the Ford Motor Company - ended automobile production after more than 90 years in the city. In response to this crisis, local regional development agencies worked closely with the Federal and State governments to craft and implement a series of structural adjustment plans that injected millions of dollars into the area and contained the negative impacts of change. Our account highlights the tensions between Geelong's subservience to the metropolitan-oriented imperatives of capital and the state and its citizen's desire to retain a distinctive and separate urban identity. The new economic trajectory of the city relies on construction and government services, which together are transforming its economic structure. The city is also increasingly becoming a satellite dormitory suburb of the adjacent "global city" of Melbourne. Despite the active involvement of local leaders, the city continues to be an object of external management, orchestrated by the state and new financialised fractions of capital.

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