A local business lobby group is making the case for the Darling Downs as a future regional manufacturing hub, citing existing strength in machinery production and positive sentiment around reshoring.
The Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise says a new technology and training hub is needed to bring manufacturing to the state. It says such potential exists but “will require a significant investment in new manufacturing technologies” to be realised.
“There is real opportunity to leverage on the current COVID supply chain disruptions,” said TSBE CEO Ali Davenport in a statement.
“The introduction of a manufacturing hub, similar to those supported in Cairns, Townsville and Rockhampton, could boost manufacturing productivity and innovation in the Darling Downs and set a path for regional manufacturing growth.”
According to research published earlier this year by Davenport’s organisation, Darling Downs is home to 380 businesses in manufacturing, which contributes approximately $2.8 billion a year to the local economy.
Activity is focussed mainly on food and metal-related products, with the country’s largest representation of broadacre farming equipment makers.
“The Darling Downs demonstrates significant competitive advantage, with low-cost land acquisitions and outgoings, as well as easy access to transport including Wellcamp Airport and the Toowoomba Bypass,” said Davenport.
“We know that for the manufacturing sector to grow, we need to back local businesses through skills development and training, in turn helping them to remain globally competitive, adopt leading-edge technologies and grow our economy.”
TSBE also cited a reshoring survey of Australian manufacturing executives taken in late-2020, finding 55 per cent of respondents “intend to bring operations back” within three years.
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