Could aerospace technology one day be Ipswich's top export?
With stagnating employment opportunities, Ipswich, west of Brisbane, is looking for export opportunities in new industries.
Queensland’s first region-specific Trade and Investment Queensland (TIQ) officer has been appointed to the city.
One of the first companies to benefit has been Springfield-based Fountx, which will showcase its cutting-edge wearable technology to potential investors in Singapore and the United Arab Emirates in the coming weeks.
Its hands-free system uses a helmet-mounted camera and a near-eye display to allow aviation technicians to interact with remotely-located experts in real time.
General manager Laurence Beraldo said it could potentially enable more timely repairs of grounded aircraft, because it removes the need for specialists to travel.
“What really has helped us is having a TIQ office in the area — it has enabled us to open new doors,” he said.
The company’s taken on a number of staff who live in the region and were trained at local universities.
While unemployment has dropped in the surrounding cities of Brisbane, Toowoomba, Logan and Beaudesert, Ipswich’s jobless rate of 7.6 per cent is the highest in south-east Queensland, and the fourth-highest in the state.
Principal Trade and Investment Officer Julie Mark is already working with more than 80 businesses in the region and believes Ipswich and its surrounds have a strong exporting future.
“A lot of what I am doing is facilitating opportunities and letting them know what is out there and how to increase their productivity to grow their business by exporting,” Ms Mark said.
“Asia is a highlight, there are a lot of opportunities in Singapore, Hong Kong, China and also the Middle East, so the United Arab Emirates.”
While Ms Mark will also work with businesses in the Scenic Rim, Lockyer Valley and Somerset regions, there is a focus on Ipswich, which has a strong manufacturing history.
She said Ipswich’s proximity to Brisbane and population growth are good indicators for future trade.
“It is really attractive for businesses to relocate here, so we are finding that it is really growing,” she said.
“A lot of young start-ups are coming in, and it has been good to be able to see the innovation and the thinking behind starting up in Ipswich and how they are doing some really good things.”