The Cairns manufacturing sector has received a $10 million boost, with the Palaszczuk Government teaming up with TAFE Queensland to establish a manufacturing hub to support local manufacturers to become more productive and grow their businesses.
Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning Cameron Dick said the hub will provide a place for local manufacturing businesses to receive expert advice and support around how they can expand.
“Our government made a commitment to Queenslanders to establish manufacturing hubs in regional areas to drive this important sector while bolstering local economies, and we are delivering on that commitment,” he said.
“This hub will provide a catalyst to promote and deliver world-leading technologies, processes and practices to manufacturers in the region and attract increased private sector investment and jobs to the Far North of our state.
“It will support manufacturers to develop strong links with local universities and schools to develop a workforce with strong skills in science, technology, engineering and maths.”
Mr Dick said manufacturers will have easy access to business development programs, skills and training and equipment through TAFE Queensland Cairns campus.
“My department has consulted with local businesses, local governments, unions and educational institutions to develop the best model for Cairns,” he said.
“This hub will support joint projects to strengthen key manufacturing sectors in the region, including marine, aviation and food manufacturing.”
Member for Cairns Michael Healy said: “The hub will support joint projects to strengthen key manufacturing sectors in the region, which in turn creates and sustains jobs, generates industry opportunities and bolsters the local economy.
“Advanced welding training and the development of robotic capability will assist the marine sector to grow its capability for future defence and commercial sustainment work.
“An Advanced Fibre Composites Maintenance and Repair Facility, and access to 3D printing technologies in Cairns, will also assist local aviation businesses to specialise in maintenance and repair work for small to medium-sized aircraft, which will add to the great work already underway in our city to service the aviation sector.”
Speaker and Member for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt said: “Having a Food Manufacturing Incubator as part of this hub will be a great asset for our region, providing facilities for early stage food processors from across the Far North to test, scale-up and commercialise their products to take advantage of Cairns’ tropical produce and proximity to Asia-Pacific markets.
“The Cairns manufacturing hub will ensure the region’s manufacturing sector continues to thrive well into the future, supported by the skills, networks and jobs it needs to strengthen and evolve to meet market and industry demands.”
Clinton Fang Yuen from Fang’s Chili Sauce in Portsmith said the hub was an excellent opportunity to help local businesses grow and will help Cairns food businesses prepare to export.
“This will allow food manufacturers to increase quantities of their products, through expert assistance and support to new and existing food brands,” Mr Fang Yuen said.
“The value of collaboration with someone on the same journey as yours is enormous.”
Ms Peta-Maree Broadley, managing director of Homefab Pty Ltd and member of the Manufacturing Ministerial Committee, said the manufacturing hub presented a significant opportunity for the region to drive innovation, growth and jobs.
“As at December last year, Cairns’ manufacturing sector contributed $762 million to the state’s economy annually and represents more than six per cent of all industry employment in the region,” she said.
“There are over 400 manufacturing small-to-medium enterprises operating in the Cairns region.”
Mr Dick said the Palaszczuk Government is also investing $10 million in Townsville and $10 million in Rockhampton to establish manufacturing hubs.
“Queensland’s manufacturing sector is worth $20 billion each year to the state economy and employs around 179,000 people,” he said.
“Manufacturing in Queensland is diverse, with the top five employing sub-sectors being food product manufacturing, machinery and equipment, transport equipment, fabricated metal production and furniture.
“The manufacturing hub model aligns closely with our government’s $7.6 million Advanced Manufacturing 10-Year Roadmap and Action Plan.
“This government is committed to building the state’s manufacturing industry through practical initiatives such as Made in Queensland, a suite of Industry 4.0 programs, Design in Manufacturing, Women in Manufacturing and our Hackerspaces program.”
The $40 million Made in Queensland program has, to date, awarded $18.2 million, through 53 approved grants, helping to create an estimated 532 high-skill jobs. Cairns manufacturers accounted for four of these approved grants totalling more than $1 million and helping to create around 27 high-skill jobs.
The hubs will be staffed by a hub coordinator, a skills development and training officer, and a project support officer in each location. Recruitment for these positions will begin soon, to plan for the opening of the hubs in early 2019.