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Business & Investment

Our region is strategically located with the New South Wales/Queensland border in the north, the Clarence Valley in the south and the Great Dividing Range in the west. The Northern Rivers is gifted with productive soils, excellent growing climate, beautiful beaches, educated and creative population and increasing investment into infrastructure.

When you’re thinking about investment options for your business instead of asking “Why Northern Rivers?” ask “Why Not?”.

Consider us here at RDA Northern Rivers as your very own Investment Concierge. When you are looking to relocate your business or reinvest in your current business contact us for more information and assistance. We will be pleased to provide a pathway for your Northern Rivers future.

Food Manufacturing

Food manufacturing in the Northern Rivers is a $400 million ‘value add’ industry with regional exports exceeding $1.1 billion. It is the only industry in the region where local expenditure exceeds regional imports.

Our region continues to benefit from the rural co-operatives business structure with well established co-operative businesses NORCO and Northern Co-operative Meat Company, making significant ground in establishing trade arrangements in Asia. The success of the co-operative business model in the Northern Rivers was a key driver for the Australian Government funded pilot co-operative project, Farming Together being located in the region.

More recently, newcomers to the region have brought entrepreneurial innovation and sustainability to the local food manufacturing industry. Sustainability and community are key to our local boutique food and beverage manufacturing industry.


Case Study: Stone & Wood

Stone & Wood Brewing Company was established in 2008 in an old soft drink factory in the Byron Bay Industrial Estate. A collaboration between three friends, they set about creating ‘handmade’ brews from their small boutique brewery in Byron Bay. By the end of 2008 they had their first keg of beer on tap in local pubs and their first bottled lager was released in 2009. The company has continued to grow with a second brewery opened in Murwillumbah in 2014 . They now employ over 120 people in the Northern Rivers region.


Collaboration and networking have long been the foundation of our local food industry and this tradition continues with our newest industry players. The Northern Rivers Food network was established in 2013 through the Sustain Northern Rivers project, a collaboration of regional councils, education and health organisations, RDA Northern Rivers, NSW government agencies and other regional entities. The member based Northern Rivers Food network continue to host regular networking and business development events, as well as a web directory of member businesses.

As the local food industry grows there is an increasing need for greater investment in food processing facilities in the region. Such an investment would support our growing industry to meet their need for expansion.


Agriculture is a major driver of the Northern Rivers’ economy. In recent years there has been much growth in the area of agribusiness with the expansion of the blueberry and macadamia industries to meet growing demand for their product in international markets.


Case Study: Macadamia Processing Company

The Macadamia Processing Company (MPC) was founded as a cooperative in 1983 by a few macadamia growers near Lismore who decided to take control of the production and marketing of their own produce. They now have over 160 grower shareholders in North New South Wales and South Eastern Queensland. The company processed just over 50 tonnes of nut-in-shell in its first year, earning just over $100,000. Thirty years later MPC has grown to become the largest and most successful macadamia processor in the world. It has its own land and custom-built factory at Alphadale near Lismore, built in 1986 and continually upgraded ever since. The factory currently processes around 10-13,000 tonnes of nut-in-shell per annum, and turns over approximately $80 million a year (depending on the crop size, prices, exchange rate etc). They employ 33 permanent staff, which increases to around 170 during processing season.


Investment within agribusiness has included research and development and the adoption of new technologies. This includes researching new, higher yielding and disease resistant varieties of plant stock and the introduction of digital technologies to improve internal systems and reduce costs, improve information and manage the flow of products.

Digital Economy

As the world transitions to a digital future the Northern Rivers is well placed for growth in digital industries. The online work space of digital professionals has all but eliminated the need to live in the city to gain market share. Lifestyle options that include beach and rural living have long served as an attraction for film and media professionals.

It is a key priority for the region to grasp opportunities that have arisen from the rapid technological transformation of many traditional industries that have underpinned the local economy including agri-business, manufacturing and the service sector. The interpretation of these changes into a regional context and the distribution of knowledge, practices and technologies are critical to ensure the local industries remain competitive, nationally as well as globally. Increasing the value-adding to these industries is a high priority.


Case Study: Cumulus VFX

Cumulus Visual Effects was established in 2010, from the humble beginnings of their founder, William Gammon’s garage. With a laptop and a vision to create remote visual effects as a service, Will tapped into the independent film market, offering cost effective solutions to low budget films. After a few years of proving the workflow, Cumulus VFX began to spread its wings and take on larger packages of work and move into the wider area of postproduction and beyond. The expansion is now providing employment for twenty digital content professionals, all working at Cumulus HQ in Habitat, Byron Bay. Some of their recent projects include National Geographic’s MARS, the Australian SciFi film Occupation, Air New Zealand’s ‘Fantastical Journey’ famous safety video, the Australian sci-fi feature Occupation and international block buster Peter Rabbit.


New ‘gig-economy’ industry development is now being considered as a real opportunity focussing on harnessing the national and international reputation the region has already developed in a variety of digitally driven sectors. Underpinned by the recently completed Digital Content Industry feasibility study, there is now a drive to seek investment into this industry to establish a regional hub for film, television and digital content production.

Visitor Economy

The Northern Rivers has long been a destination for day trippers from the Brisbane/Gold Coast region and longer stay visitors from across Australia and the world. The proximity of our region to the growing population in South East Queensland in the north and Sydney less than an hour by air in the south, coupled with all that our region has to offer continues to attract visitors.

The industry supports over eight and a half thousand jobs across the region and value adds over $770 million.

In 2016 our region received over 2.4 million domestic and 233,000 international overnight visitors, and 3.7 million domestic daytrip visitors. The average stay for domestic overnight visitors is 4 nights, with international visitors staying an average of 11 nights. The tourism spend from international overnight visitors in 2016 was $119 million, while domestic daytrip visitors spent $411 million in the region.

Destination North Coast NSW supports regional tourism through research, marketing and business development opportunities. Further information on tourism investment opportunities in the Northern Rivers region is available from the Destination North Coast NSW website.

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Contact RDA-NR

105 Molesworth Street
(PO Box 146)
Lismore NSW 2480 [Map]

T +61 02 6622 4011

F +61 02 6621 4609

Fb facebook.com/rdanorthernrivers

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