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Economic prosperity is important on both a national and local scale, enabling communities to improve their economic future. A number of Victorian councils, particularly non-metropolitan councils, have experienced a decline in their economic growth over the past 10 years.

A wide range of variables influence economic development in municipalities. Many of these are beyond the direct control or influence of local governments. However, local governments can play an important role in facilitating better conditions for economic development within their municipalities. Councils' roles include devising long-term economic development strategies, and creating suitable conditions for economic development.

This report examines whether councils’ economic development activities help to improve the economic viability and sustainability of their municipalities.

Our focus was on regional and rural councils because they face greater challenges to economic development compared to metropolitan councils and included Bass Coast Shire Council, Corangamite Shire Council, Loddon Shire Council, Melton City Council and Southern Grampians Shire Council.

We also examined the roles of Regional Development Victoria (RDV)—a statutory agency within the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources—and Local Government Victoria (LGV), which is part of the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, in assisting councils to facilitate local economic development.

We made a total of eight recommendations including three for RDV, three for councils, and two further recommendations for RDV and LGV.

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