The University of Wollongong and Wollongong City Council are working together to discover how locals and those living outside the city perceive the area. They hope that by understanding the ‘Wollongong of today’ better preparations and plans can be made for the future of the city.
Jessica Baxter, a PhD student at UOW’s Institute in Business and Social Research (IIBSoR) conducted in-depth interviews with a variety of sources to further enhance her already lengthy research into the topic.
Ms Baxter told the Current Magazine that the project initiated as part of her masters degree where she went out and interviewed Wollongong residents about how they about felt their city and then presented those findings to Wollongong City Council as part of ‘Brand Wollongong’.
She said, “From the reaction from the council they then commissioned me to go ahead and conduct this further study … to compare what residents thought about the city and what externals or no-residents thought about the city”.
“We looked at people from tourism, people from the business sector, industry peak bodies and also wanted to have representatives from the arts and culture and also property investment, so all the key things that contribute to the success of the city”.
The Council plans to combine the findings from this research and findings from some of Ms. Baxter’s previous works to enhance the development of future marketing strategies as well as the major events strategy which has recently been endorsed by Wollongong City Council.
“Council have been very pleased with the report, they are very happy with the relationship between UOW and the Council. They are happy with the way the report has come along and they are really pleased about finding such valued insights about Wollongong”, said Ms Baxter.
Jeremy Wilshire from Wollongong City Council said in a media release today, “the academic expertise and student resources available to the city through the university are an incredible asset that we must continue to tap into.”
“It’s a win-win situation – the growth and credibility of the university is intrinsically linked to growth and credibility of the city, so its imperative to work together and foster complementary initiatives,” he said.
The findings from the project have been reported as being diverse and several strengths of the area were highlighted including its natural assets, such as the beaches, and the areas proximity to Sydney.
Words by: KIERAN WATSON