Chance for $10m export hub
THE council is jumping at an opportunity to potentially position the Whitsundays at the centre of a $10 million export hub but will need to meet the international export-ready requirement at Whitsunday Coast Airport to be a serious contender.
The Palaszczuk Government has committed to support a business case for the Regional Export Distribution Centre Pilot and the Whitsunday Regional Council is working on a formal registration of interest for the project.
The pilot aims to boost rapid access to international markets for agricultural producers.
Mayor Andrew Willcox said the registration of interest stage involved providing a brief overview of the project including location, regional airport connections and goods/ products to be handled.
Cr Willcox said this was a huge economic growth opportunity and aligned with the council's Economic Development Strategy adopted last year.
"We are one of the few regional councils that own an airport and are close to a huge horticulture base, major highways and rail network, so this makes the Whitsundays an obvious choice,” he said.
"However we do have our backs against the wall as one of the key requirements of the proposal is an international export-ready airport.
"So basically we are going in to bat against the privately owned Wellcamp Airport at Toowoomba and international airport hubs in Townsville and Cairns.”
An export distribution centre is a specialised facility offering customised temperature-controlled warehousing of products ready for export as well as coordination of transport, logistics and delivery services.
Proserpine Chamber of Commerce president Bob Bogie said Proserpine needed the economic boost an export hub could provide.
"The chamber supports a regional export distribution centre to be located in the Proserpine area and using Proserpine airport as the co-located airport,” he said.
"A centre such as this would support our agriculture (and potentially aquaculture) sectors. It would act as a catalyst for job creation as well as much-needed spending in the local economy.”
The pilot aims to boost rapid access to international markets for Queensland's regional producers, providing opportunities to expand into new markets, create jobs and boost productivity.
If the project is demonstrated to be feasible, the proponent will be supported to complete approvals processes, secure finance and build a commercially viable facility.
Expressions of interest will open from July until the end of August, but prior to that the State Government is seeking registrations of interest from parties considering the opportunity.