Business-led city associations and collaborative economic development organisations are an increasingly important player in urban development, particularly where cities are facing economic decline and are seeking economic and social reinvigoration or transformation. The Committee for Geelong (CfG) in Australia is one such entity, an “independent, member-based organisation committed to leading and influencing to achieve our strategic objectives for Geelong”. This paper presents the results of a collaborative research effort between the CfG, the UN Global Compact - Cities Programme and the RMIT Centre for Urban Research that sought to draw on the experiences of comparable cities in Europe and the United States of America to guide the transformation of the Geelong economy. The study also endeavoured to support and inform wider Australian government policy thinking on second cities and came at an important juncture for Geelong, as Victoria’s second largest city. The research is based on a study tour of second cities, investigating how comparable international cities have developed into growing, successful cities following the decline of core industrial sectors. The insights of the resultant report provide recommendations for Geelong’s social and economic development and focus on governance frameworks, vision and strategy implementation, approaches to economic development and how diverse economic needs have been addressed within communities. While focusing on Geelong, the findings also underscore the need for greater policy and planning attention to be given to second cities in Australia, with many examples of significant economic and social development resulting from this type of policy focus. Findings have been presented to local, state, federal and international leaders.