More than 10,000 businesses employ over 80,000 people in the Geelong region, with manufacturing and processing industries providing around 15,000 jobs, followed by 13,000 in retail, and 8,000 in health and community services.
Geelong's major employers include the Ford Motor Company engine plant in Norlane, aircraft maintenance at Avalon Airport, the head office of retail chain Target, the Bartter (Steggles) chicken processing plant, Alcoa's Point Henry aluminium smelter, and the Shell oil refinery at Corio.
The Geelong region attracted over 6 million tourists during 2001. Major tourist attractions include the Waterfront Geelong precinct and Eastern Beach on the shores of Corio Bay, the Ford Discovery Centre and National Wool Museum in the city, and more than 30 historical buildings listed on the Victorian Heritage Register. The Geelong area hosts regular international events which are also tourist drawcards including the Australian International Airshow.
Geelong has a number of shopping precincts in the CBD and surrounding suburbs. The two main shopping centres are located in the CBD - Westfield Geelong and Market Square, with smaller centres in the suburbs including Belmont Plaza and Waurn Ponds Shopping Centre in the south, Bellarine Village in Newcomb in the east, and Corio Village Shopping Centre in the north. The opening of the major shopping centres have seen a decline in strip shopping on Moorabool Street, with many empty shops and few customers. Geelong is also home to Mitre 10's largest franchisees Fagg's operating five stores across the town and employing over 160 people.
Located in Geelong are major research laboratories, the CSIRO Australian Animal Health Laboratory in East Geelong, CSIRO Division of Textiles and Fibres Technology in Belmont and the Marine and Freshwater Resources Institute at Queenscliff.
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—Alexander Herzen (18121870)
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—Henry David Thoreau (18171862)