During the second half of the nineteenth century, Footscray developed into the central powerhouse of Melbourne's industrial wealth. The Maribyrnong River became an industrial corridor and suffered from severe environmental degradation. A decline in the manufacturing industry followed in the 1960s and ‘70s, which led to substantial unemployment.
Today, industrial closures on the river are being turned to advantage, creating potential for new development. The opportunity to enjoy a waterside location in close proximity to central Melbourne has served as a catalyst for the regeneration of the surrounding areas. Maribyrnong currently has a workforce of more than 21,000 people working in professional occupations as well as tradespeople, production/transport workers and labourers. It is home to more than 3,500 businesses. Council's industry surveys indicate that between 1990 and 2000,127 new industries were established creating over 2,400 jobs. Maribyrnong is also the centre of retailing in the western region.