Speaking at the Illawarra Manufacturing Expo hosted by Member for Throsby Stephen Jones and Member for Cunningham Sharon Bird, Innovation Minister Senator Kim Carr said manufacturing was an essential part of the local and national economy.
“The Government knows that times are tough right now for manufacturing. This Expo is showing local firms that we will work with them to transform manufacturing in the country and create the high-skill, high-wage jobs of the future,” Senator Carr said.
“Today’s Expo has been organised by Sharon and I because we are keenly aware of the immediate need for support and information for local employers about the range of government assistance available, as well as providing the opportunity for the Minister to hear directly from manufacturers about the challenges they are currently facing,” Mr Jones said.
At the Expo, the Minister and local Members highlighted the $30 million Illawarra Region Innovation and Investment Fund, announced last week in response to job losses at BlueScope Steel.
“Through the Fund we will partner with local firms to create and secure new jobs and new technologies to ensure the Illawarra economy can prosper through this difficult time,” Senator Carr said.
The Fund specifically targets firms providing: engineering, construction and support services to heavy process manufacturing and the mining industry; manufacturing for the power, mining and transport sectors; engineered equipment for oil, gas and downstream industries; and firms involved in creative multimedia and software development.
“We know Illawarra firms are innovative and we encourage businesses investing in new clean technology to apply to the Fund,” Mr Jones said.
“Firms like Partech Systems Pty Ltd, a local firm working in partnership with a researcher from the University of Wollongong, are developing and marketing a lowcost solar-powered rail level crossing control system. The Government is currently backing Partech with a $50,000 Enterprise Connect Researchers in Business grant,” Ms Bird said.
Before the Expo, Senator Carr and Ms Bird turned the first sod at the site of the University of Wollongong’s new Sustainable Buildings Research Centre.
“Located on the Innovation Campus, the Centre is part of the Retrofitting for Resilient and Sustainable Buildings (RRSB) project. This project will help transform our construction industry by discovering sustainable building practices and products and find ways to improve the energy efficiency of new and existing buildings,” Senator Carr said.
“The Centre and the RRSB project are great news for the Illawarra region. The RRSB project, with the Centre as its main research facility, will create over 100 research jobs and open up to 100 undergraduate and 200 post-graduate positions, which will train students in sustainable construction technologies and practices,” Ms Bird said.