Karratha’s most prominent resident, Brendon Grylls, says the city’s future growth will come from small local businesses, not big resources projects.

One of the country’s top economic powerhouses has become Western Australia’s newest city.

The City of Karratha, formally the Shire of Roeburne, celebrated its elevated city status on Tuesday at a plaque unveiling ceremony where it showed off new signage and council uniforms.

Karratha has the sixth largest gross domestic product for a local government in Australia, after Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and the Gold Coast.

Mayor Peter Long said the Pilbara would soon produce 40 per cent of Australia’s export income.

And despite Karratha’s 13,000 fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) beds gradually emptying out as the resources boom fades, community growth continues, he said.

Student numbers in Karratha are up two per cent this year after averaging six per cent growth over the past five years, with one primary school taking on an average of five new students per week.

The council has also pushed its agenda of amenity with the development of integrated FIFO camps, beautified streetscapes and a bike path from outer suburbs to the city centre.

Underground power is scheduled to be rolled out across Karratha and Roeburne by the end of 2017.

Pilbara MP and local resident Brendon Grylls said Karratha’s future lay with small business, with normalising rent prices making it an affordable place to live. Property prices have almost halved since the heady days of the boom.

“That growth will come internally – it won’t be a big ticket project,” Mr Grylls said.

“Five years ago it was hard to get a good coffee, you couldn’t get a haircut and certainly renting a house was almost impossible.

“Now there’s three or four new coffee shops selling that good coffee, it’s easy to get a haircut and the quality is good, and it’s affordable to rent in the community, so new businesses are starting up off the back of that.”

The city has a population of more than 26,000 and covers the Pilbara regions of Dampier, Karratha, Roebourne, Wickham, Point Samson and Cossack.