Recently released 2021 Census data shows that the City of Greater Geelong’s population grew by more than 30,000 since 2016.

There is little doubt that our region is playing an important role in the state with more people moving here and businesses looking to invest.

In October this year, the first Spirit of Tasmania service to Geelong will arrive. In 2023, both re-developments of the Geelong Arts Centre and the final stage of GMHBA Stadium will be complete. In March 2026, we will welcome the Commonwealth Games to our city. We will have less than four years to plan and build the necessary infrastructure.

And the jewel in the crown of our $500 million plus Geelong City Deal is the $294 million Geelong Convention and Exhibition Centre.

A long-term priority for the Committee for Geelong, the new Geelong Convention and Exhibition Centre (GCEC) is a key economic opportunity for the region.

The GCEC will be developed on a 1.6-hectare site between Western Beach Road and Smythe Street, and will include a hotel and other commercial and residential developments.

As plans develop for the design and construction, it is hoped that the GCEC will be opened by 2026 – just in time for the Commonwealth Games.

In a public/private partnership the project team is looking for feedback to finalise the objectives for the project. This will help inform preparation of the briefs to potential developers and builders later in the year. 

The Committee for Geelong is in dialogue with the project team and the operator regarding our views on the planning for GCEC. There is now an opportunity for the community to add their voice on the key objectives.

Two of the five key objectives are to: Revitalise central Geelong and to Enhance Geelong’s position as a City of Design.

Revitalising our city requires ongoing commitment from government and strong leadership to build on the original vision of Steampacket Place and the redevelopment of the waterfront in the 1990s. The GCEC needs to stand proud in this prime location and drive private investment in and around our CBD.

The Committee for Geelong has also made repeated calls for significant investment in the surrounding precinct to ensure accessibility and sustainability and incorporate reliable and attractive public transport connections. We are pleased to see that revitalising central Geelong is one of the objectives for the GCEC.

Our advocacy to government has also been strong regarding the need for this building to be an exemplar of design which is befitting a UNESCO Creative City of Design. This objective to enhance Geelong’s position as a City of Design also incorporates the need for a “design outcome that recognises the indigenous heritage of the Wadawurrung and appropriately celebrates their enduring influence over the Site and surrounds”.

On the back of the historic re-branding of the Djilang Advertiser for NAIDOC Week, we support and celebrate the opportunity for GCEC to tell the story of First Nations to those experiencing the GCEC. This could include design aspects in the construction of the building and also opportunities for storytelling throughout the internal spaces.

In the coming months the GCEC team wants to hear from us all about our hopes and dreams for this facility.  To fill out a survey or attend as session visit

The building of the Geelong Convention and Exhibition Centre is a once in a generation opportunity for our city. The Committee for Geelong will continue engaging with members, government and the GCEC team to ensure our voices are heard so this facility is an asset for our whole community one that we can be truly proud of.

Jennifer Cromarty

CEO, Committee for Geelong

Image: Development Victoria