Economic Development


Located on the doorstep of the Nation’s Capital, Yass Valley boasts a modern and well renowned food and wine scene, numerous education options, employment opportunities, medical and general services, including a hospital, three large supermarkets, sporting facilities, and housing opportunities well below the median house price of nearby Canberra. All this, combined with friendly and helpful locals, stunning landscapes and natural wonderlands, makes the Yass Valley one of the best places to live, work and invest within the region. 

The country way of life is popular with Canberran’s seeking space and a rural lifestyle. With a population of just over 16,500 people, which is largely composed of young families with higher than average education and income levels, the Yass Valley enjoys strong and consistent population growth of around two per cent each year and one of the lowest unemployment rates in Australia.

Rural Lifestyle

The Yass Valley was settled by pastoralists in the 1820’s, following the expeditions of Hume and Hovell, which eventually led to the construction of the present day Hume Highway, connecting Sydney and Melbourne. Yass has long been a stopover for travellers and tourists and the region is renowned for producing fine wool and lamb.

Today, Yass Valley is home to much of the Canberra Wine district, with over 40 vineyards, many with cellar doors. Boasting numerous fine food producers, niche agricultural products and a variety of artisans and craftspeople, the community abounds with creative talent. 


Strong Economy

Yass Valley enjoys one of the strongest economies in regional NSW, driven primarily by agriculture, tourism and the incomes earned by residents working in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). As a result of the availability of high paying jobs within commuting distance, Yass Valley enjoys a very low unemployment rate of 2.6 per cent, well below the average for regional NSW (5.4 per cent). 

Residents of Yass Valley are more highly educated than the average Australian and earn higher average incomes compared to both NSW and Australia. Over 50 per cent of Yass Valley workers travel to work outside the region on a daily basis with over 4,100 people commuting to jobs, predominately in the ACT. Those commuting are primarily employed in the public sector, construction industry and professional, scientific and technical services sectors. Within the local government area, the greatest number of people are employed in the agriculture, forestry and fishing sector followed by accommodation and food services, then construction sectors.

As a result of the strength of the local economy, Yass Valley ranked 18th out of over 150 Local Government Areas for the lowest levels of disadvantage and is the second highest in regional NSW. 


Competitive Advantage

Yass Valley offers many business opportunities across the region for locals and newcomers to the area. The competitive advantage is location, just 45 minutes from Canberra, and a three hour drive from Sydney, the area is very well connected at the junction of five main highways, including the Hume and Federal Highways linking the region to Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra.

The Gross Regional Product (GDP) is $0.69 billion for Yass Valley with the major importing sector being manufacturing and the major exporting sector being agriculture, forestry and fishing. Food and wine is a growth area for the region with data from a study undertaken by Tourism Research Australia noting that 12% of people interviewed listed the Canberra Wine District, of which Yass Valley is part, as a top NSW food and wine destination.

A variety of industries have seen business success here including agriculture, food and wine, retail, hospitality, tourism and business services. Yass Valley – it’s good for business. 


Economic Development Strategy

Economic Development is a key priority of the Yass Valley Community Strategic Plan. Council's Economic Development Manager’s role is to promote Yass Valley as an attractive place to live, work and invest and to provide support and information to businesses and potential investors. The Economic Development Manager can provide businesses with a range of services including:

  • Market analysis information.
  • Information on setting up a business in Yass Valley.
  • Advice on potential business locations.
  • Access to grants including assistance with applying for state and federal government grants.
  • Access to small business advisors and training.
  • Networking and information on training and educational opportunities.



Canberra Region 

The Canberra Region is home to Australia’s highest mountain and ski slopes, pristine beaches, vast country landscapes and a vibrant capital city, offering endless opportunities for you to discover.

Only in the Canberra Region can you enjoy world-class skiing one day and surfing the next; or balance the simplicity of country life with access to the attractions of a sophisticated city. If you’re looking for somewhere to live, visit or invest, the Canberra Region and its rich diversity of city, coast, alpine and tablelands provides you with unparalleled opportunities.


Yass Valley is part of the stunning Tablelands - known for it's 'tapestry of colour' fields - and containing the very best of Australian country living and characteristic of some of the Canberra Region’s key values of free spirit and discovery. Enjoy fresh boutique products directly from the farm gate, or tour the many award-winning wineries. Rich in culture as well as produce, the Tablelands is peppered with heritage-listed colonial style buildings and museums and preserved areas of Aboriginal cultural significance.

Industry Sectors

Yass Valley continues to evolve from a community traditionally reliant on agriculture into a growing, modern and regional community, where new and innovative businesses can prosper and are being recognised nationally and internationally.

Sharing a border with our nation’s capital, Yass Valley is a special place where people know their neighbours and love the wide open spaces and fresh country air. Our residents have unique work and educational opportunities whilst enjoying the charm of living in the country. The best of both worlds!


In 2015-16, the total value of the tourism sector was $50.9 million. The sector contributes 211 full-time equivalent jobs across a range of accommodation, food service and recreational activity businesses.  The region receives approximately 377,000 visitors annually with over 250,000 day visitors drawing from its locational advantage of nearby Canberra. 

Key sectors for the region's tourism industry include: food and wine; nature and outdoors; and heritage and arts. The region is blessed with a vibrant and diverse events calendar with event clusters in the late summer-early autumn and spring seasons.  Consistent with much of Regional NSW, a key market for Yass Valley is the visiting friends and relatives (VFR) market, accounting for over 30 per cent of visitors to the region.

Investment in the region's tourism industry has been strong over recent years with an increase in accommodation, attractions and food and beverage product across the Yass Valley local government area. Of note, is the 2018 addition of 50 rooms in the heart of wine country by the Abode Group – Abode Murrumbateman.  This property provides much needed tourism accommodation infrastructure to support the region's wine tourism industry.

Yass Valley Council takes a proactive approach to supporting the region's tourism sector with a dedicated business unit providing destination information services, destination marketing, industry and product development.  The region's tourism industry is supported by a Destination Management Plan (DMP) that aims to provide a pathway to develop the industry and drive the region's visitor economy.  The DMP is a regional plan developed across the eight local government areas of the Canberra Region by Destination Southern NSW in conjunction with local tourism operators, local government, Visit Canberra and Destination NSW.


In 2015-16, the total value of agricultural output in Yass Valley was $250.8 million. The sector supports over 1,000 full-time equivalent jobs and generates over $30 million worth of international exports. The largest sectors within this industry were livestock slaughtering’s ($29M) and wool ($20M). Cereal and broadacre crops ($4M), vegetables ($3.7M) and hay ($2.8M) are also significant sectors (2010-2011). The value of the wool industry and broadacre hay and cereal crops is steadily declining, however, the value of vegetable productions has risen significantly in recent years. The increase in vegetable production is primarily driven by the development of two large mushroom farms. Wine grape production has levelled off somewhat and the number of wine grape growers has consolidated. However, there remains scope to increase wine grape production to meet increasing demand as the region’s reputation for high-quality cool-climate wine increases.

Due to its proximity to Canberra and access to transport networks, Yass Valley is an ideal location for specialty and niche food and agricultural products. These enterprises could provide alternative employment for those currently commuting to Canberra as well as offer additional tourism experiences. Less than 10 per cent of agricultural jobs in Yass Valley are in agricultural support services such as research, advisory services or input suppliers. However, again, the proximity to Canberra and national research agencies such as CSIRO, offer opportunities to host these types of organisations. Yass Valley could also offer warehousing and value-adding services for high-value food products destined for export through the Canberra International Airport.

The South East Livestock Exchange (SELX) is testament to the regions strength as an agricultural centre with the capacity to sell 3,800 cattle and 30,000 sheep on any given sale day, and generated $164 million of livestock sales in its first year of operation.



Yass Valley Business Chamber 

The Yass Valley Business Chamberis a business support organisation for the Yass Valley region, which includes Binalong, Bookham, Bowning, Gundaroo, Murrumbateman, Sutton, Wee Jasper & Yass.

The Chamber is a not-for-profit membership based group funded through member dues, government grants and various fundraising initiatives.

The Chamber is dedicated to existing and developing business in our region. Its purpose is helping businesses to maximise their potential by working together to create positive development. They do this by: 

  • Networking.
  • Advocacy.
  • Practical support.

The Chamber meets on the first Friday of the month for breakfast networking events. The venue varies. Check the Business Chamber website for details.

Canberra Region Joint Organisation (CRJO)

Yass Valley Council is a proud member of the Canberra Region Joint Organisation (CRJO). The vision of the CRJO is ‘working together to deliver better outcomes for our communities and the region’.

The CRJO region is located in south-eastern NSW and surrounds the ACT. The region is predominantly rural, with major towns being Batemans Bay, Bega, Bowral, Cooma, Crookwell, Goulburn, Mittagong, Moruya, Moss Vale, Narooma, Queanbeyan, Tumut, Yass and Young, many smaller townships and villages and growing residential and rural-residential areas, particularly close to Canberra and along the coast.

Our region is a unique and diverse geographic region that stretches from the South-West Slopes, through the Sydney-Canberra Corridor across the Eurobodalla down to the Sapphire Coast and then up to the Snowy Mountains. The total population of the CRJO region including the ACT is 750,000 and the total area of the region is 48,000km2.

Working closely with Councils and its affiliate members the CRJO provides networking and funding opportunities for Councils to drive large-scale and imperative infrastructure projects, investment opportunities and socio-cultural progress.

Together with the CRJO, Yass Valley Council are committed to transforming the Canberra Region into a national hub of innovation and positive change for a sustainable and better future.

 Visit Canberra Region Joint Organisation for more information.

More information: