Economic growth and development is important to the expansion of our region. A number of relevant economic profiles are outlined below.
Economic online profile
Our online economic profile includes local economic information from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Census Data for 1996, 2001, 2006, 2011 and 2016, National Accounts, NIEIR, Journey to Work and the ABS Business Register. It is designed to inform Council, investors, business, students and the general public.
It allows users to view detailed information about the characteristics of our area. This information (with maps, tables and charts) includes economic indicators, productivity, employment, workforce statistics and infrastructure. The information also contains census demographic information including age and gender profiles, income, workforce and education.
The community profile provides demographic and population information based primarily on Australian Bureau of Statistics census data. The community atlas shows interactive maps that outline the distribution of communities across our region.
The profile is provided by consultants as a service to Council. Please contact the service provider should you have any problems with this site.
We have produced six industry profiles including Agriculture, Health and Wellbeing, Food Product Manufacturing, Advanced Manufacturing, Transport and Logistics and Education and Training. These reports are intended to provide a summary of these industries in our region. The reports present key economic, sectoral and other statistical indicators in a range of categories.
Disclaimer: All figures and data presented in these documents are based on data sourced from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), other government agencies, .id Consulting and the National Institute of
Economic & Industry Research (NIEIR). These documents are provided in good faith with every effort made to provide accurate data and apply comprehensive knowledge. No responsibility is accepted for inadvertent errors.
Prepared for Toowoomba Regional Council by .id Consulting. Contact details for .id Consulting: phone +61 3 9417 2205 and website economy.id.com.au/toowoomba
An industry in transition
Manufacturing in the Toowoomba region is transitioning from mass production and simple processing to highly specialised manufacturing. There is an increasing focus on niche manufacturing which utilises advanced materials or automation in the production process.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics defines advanced manufacturing as industries that manufacture specialised chemicals or equipment. Productivity in these particular sectors has doubled in the Toowoomba region in the last decade. Considerable growth in exports has provided further benefits to this niche industry.
It is now recognised that advanced manufacturing refers not only to the products used within the industry but also to the specialised knowledge, technology or processes required for production. This means that many manufacturers fall into the advanced manufacturing category, based on the increasing skills of their workforce, technological investment and a commitment to research and development.
Local manufacturing workers now more qualified
The majority (55%) of manufacturing workers in the Toowoomba region now have post-school qualifications, compared to 49% in 2011. In some manufacturing sectors, such as Transport Equipment and Machinery Equipment Manufacturing, more than two thirds have post-school qualifications and one in five workers have an advanced diploma or higher.
Investment in Research and Development
Businesses in the Toowoomba region are heavily investing in research and development to produce and test new products for overseas and domestic markets. More than $40 million was invested in research and development by businesses in the Toowoomba region every year between 2013 and 2015.
Between 2005 and 2014, the Toowoomba region was the second largest generator of trademark applications out of all Australian regional cities, surpassed only by the City of Gold Coast (Bendigo and Adelaide Bank and Regional Australia Institute).
Specialisations in Agriculture, Mining and Transport related manufacturing
The Toowoomba region has developed a number of manufacturing specialisations that reflect local expertise and provide critical support to other key industries. In 2016, the region had a larger share of workers in Agricultural Machinery and Equipment Manufacturing; Aircraft Manufacturing and Repair Services; Motor Vehicle Body and Trailer Manufacturing; and Mining and Construction Machinery Manufacturing, when compared to Queensland.
These industries all had more than 50 workers and a Location Quotient1 greater than 1.5 (the percentage of the Toowoomba region’s total employment in that particular industry is greater than 1.5 times the percentage of employment in that industry at a state level).
1 A simple way of identifying the main industries in an area, relative to a wider region, is to use location quotients. They are similar to benchmarking, but in this case the percentage of the local economy (total employment, FTE or value-added) in a particular industry is divided by the percentage of the wider area (region, state, nation) that this industry makes up. A LQ of 1 indicates that the industry is about as prevalent in the local area as in the wider area. A LQ of greater than 1.2 indicates a significant specialisation of the industry.
The Toowoomba region is becoming a world leader in composite materials
A number of businesses and research bodies in the Toowoomba region are working to understand and commercialise the vast potential from advanced composite materials and technologies. This includes Buchanan Advanced Composites, Wagner’s Composite Fibre Technologies and LSM Advanced Composites.
The Centre for Future Materials (CFM) based at the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) conducts world-leading research in advanced composite materials in partnership with industry. Some of the work CFM has collaborated on includes:
•Revolutionising the Australian rail infrastructure industry by providing an alternative solution for timber sleepers through the use of fibre reinforced polymer composites in civil engineering and construction.
•Developing a Reactivity Index to help understand the properties of fly ash and its effectiveness in producing a low greenhouse gas emission geopolymer concrete.
Expertise in Agricultural Machinery
The Toowoomba region is home to the National Centre for Engineering in Agriculture (NCEA), also based at the USQ Toowoomba campus, where researchers are developing adaptive systems that sense, control and monitor farming inputs such as water, fertiliser and chemicals by using variable rate technology, unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) and proximal sensors (i.e. in soils and crops) which function in real time.
NCEA has an ongoing partnership with the USA based machinery manufacturing company John Deere to explore methods to lift farm productivity, developing the next generation of agricultural technology – including machine automation and control, such as driverless tractors. This relationship will also foster training opportunities for researchers and offer postgraduates research opportunities to work with a world leader in machinery manufacturing.
Bendigo and Adelaide Bank & Regional Australia Institute, Digging Deeper – Trends In The Innovation Indicators
Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, SA3 Region Innovation Data 2009-15
University of Southern Queensland, https://www.usq.edu.au/research
Economic and employment data - National Institute of Economic and Industry Research (NIEIR) ©2018
Australian Bureau of Statistics, Census of Population and Housing 2016
Future Freight Hub
The Toowoomba region is emerging as a significant freight hub for road, rail and air due to its strategic location along the Melbourne-Brisbane freight route, efficiently linking national road and rail facilities and established infrastructure. Transport, Postal and Warehousing contributed $369 million in value added to the region’s economy in 2017 and was the fourth-largest generator of exports.
Road transport contributes the majority (57%) of value added in the region, but all main modes have experienced growth in the last ten years. With the opening of Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport, air transport has seen its value added double in five years from $11 million to $22 million. The completion of some major infrastructure projects, such as the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing, should ensure continued strong growth in this sector in the future.
Enabling growth of Toowoomba’s exports
The Toowoomba region's key export sectors, Mining, Agriculture and Manufacturing, all rely on the distribution of product to meet the growing demand from domestic and overseas markets. Exports generated $5.7 billion to the economy in 2016/17, growing by $1.3 billion in the last five years. These industries are a strategic driver of economic growth in the Toowoomba region.
Toowoomba Second Range Crossing to boost road transport
Toowoomba is strategically situated at the intersection of three major highways and enables 85% of Australia’s population to be reached within 24 hours by road. This strategic position will be further enhanced by the $1.6 billion Toowoomba Second Range Crossing (TSRC). The 43km road bypass is a major city/region shaping project set to drive growth in the region’s transport and logistics capabilities. It will reduce travel time across the Toowoomba range by 40 minutes and better link Brisbane, the Darling Downs and the Surat Basin on the road freight network. This will support the cost competitiveness of Toowoomba’s key exporting Agriculture and Food Product Manufacturing industries.
Inland Rail Project to improve freight capacity and efficiency
The 1,730km rail connection between Melbourne and Brisbane is the largest freight rail infrastructure project in Australia and is expected to be operational by 2024-2025. By 2050 almost 12 million tonnes of freight is expected to move between Melbourne and Brisbane each year - more than twice the current levels.
The Inland Rail will pass directly through the Toowoomba region and significantly reduce the freight travel time from Brisbane to Toowoomba, improving capacity and demand for distribution hubs.
Major freight facility within the Toowoomba Enterprise Hub
The area to the west of Toowoomba is developing rapidly with a range of industrial land offering ready access to transport corridors and quality infrastructure. Known as the Toowoomba Enterprise Hub, it is one of the most significant transport, logistics and business hubs in Australia. More than 2000 hectares of land is available in an area that encompasses the internationally capable Toowoomba Wellcamp airport and includes Wellcamp Business Park, InterlinkSQ and the FKG Group’s Witmack Industry Park and Charlton Logistics Park.
Witmack Industry Park is one of Toowoomba’s largest industrial land developments and offers large size industrial land parcels from two to five hectares adjacent to the Second Range Crossing. The park includes the recently opened multi-million dollar Pulse Data Centre, one of Australia’s largest data storage facilities.
Charlton Logistics Park provides fully serviced two hectare sites and is located along the Warrego Highway. The park includes the BP Toowoomba Westbound Truckstop, a full line truckstop and travel centre.
Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport supporting freight and passenger transport
Opened in 2014, the Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport is having a significant effect on the region with more than 130,000 passengers moving through its doors in 2016/17. The airport now offers more than 80 flights a week to destinations including Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Cairns, Townsville and western Queensland.
In addition to passenger services, the airport offers Queensland’s only dedicated 747-8F international freighter service. Air-cargo services to Hong Kong, gateway to more than a billion consumers in China, leave weekly from Wellcamp. Adjoining the airport is the Wellcamp Business Park which offers premium facilities for aviation, logistics, transport, corporate and mining services businesses. Schlumberger, the world's largest oilfield services company, is an anchor tenant.
InterlinkSQ to provide strategic intermodal facilities
InterlinkSQ is a major emerging intermodal transport and logistics hub located in the western outskirts of Toowoomba. It is strategically positioned at the junction of major national highways – the Warrego, New England and Gore highways, with links to the Newell Highway. It comprises the InterLink Industrial Park with 140 hectares of prime industrial land and the InterLink Global Industrial Centre, a 60 hectare site including rail terminal, container parks and direct rail access.
The facility will house 3km of state-of-the-art rail infrastructure for the current Western Rail Line and the Inland Rail project and provide extensive storage, maintenance and provisions facilities. Overall investment in the project is expected to near $1 billion by its full completion date in 2030. Construction of InterLinkSQ’s $235 million rail transfer centre has commenced, with rail services expected to be operating from the precinct in 2019.
Financial advantages from investing in the Toowoomba region
Commercial operators looking to establish in the Toowoomba region gain the benefits of quality, affordable, industrial land without sacrificing accessibility. In fact, modelling by KPMG has shown that an operator choosing to own and build a warehouse or distribution centre in the region could be up to $7.4 million better off over a 15-year life span, compared to Brisbane.
An operator choosing to rent in the region would also be better off to the value of $2.8 million. Largely, this is due to the fact that even with the existing accessibility to the rest of South East Queensland, which will improve greatly with the Second Range Crossing and Inland Rail projects, average land costs in 2016 were still $180/m2 cheaper than in Brisbane and rent $12.50/m2 less.
Toowoomba Enterprise Hub - http://www.toowoombaenterprisehub.com.au/
Economic and employment data - National Institute of Economic and Industry Research (NIEIR) ©2018
Australian Bureau of Statistics, Census of Population and Housing 2016
BITRE, 2018, Airport Traffic Data
Agriculture is a highly productive industry in Toowoomba, generating $743 million in value add in 2015. It is one of the largest industries in Toowoomba, accounting for 9.4% of gross regional product, a major increase from the past decade.
Agricultural product range
The area produces a wide range of agriculture products including grain, beef, poultry, eggs, fruits and vegetables. Its importance to the Queensland economy is highlighted by its large share of Queensland production across a number of commodities. Some of the high value commodities are (2010/11):
- Eggs: $127 million – 85% of Queensland production
- Cotton: $102 million – 13% of Queensland production
- Livestock slaughterings: $189 million – 4.6% of Queensland production
- Poultry: $69 million – 18% of Queensland production
- Sorghum: $66 million – 26% of Queensland production
- Pigs: $48 million – 22% of Queensland production
- Milk: $59 million – 23% of Queensland production
Other products of which Toowoomba produces a significant proportion of the total Queensland production include: asparagus, triticale, sunflower, maize, barley, olives, blueberries, avocados, oats and lettuce.
The region also has a number of feedlots with capacity for approximately 130,000 animals.
Agriculture is a highly productive industry in Toowoomba, generating $743 million in value add in 2015. It is one of the largest industries in Toowoomba, accounting for 9.4% of gross regional product. The value of agriculture has increased strongly in the past decade.
In the Toowoomba Region, around 4.6% of all jobs are within the agriculture industry, well above the Queensland benchmark of 2.5%. While employment has decreased slightly over the past decade, the productivity in the industry has risen sharply. This is reflective of the increased use of automation and other technological advances e.g. drone usage within the agricultural industry. Worker productivity was $216,272 in 2015, up from $136,949 in 2005. This is significantly more productive than the Queensland average.
Toowoomba exports 70% of its agricultural output. In 2015, $1.13 billion worth of agricultural output was exported. The majority of it went to the Australian market, but $80.62 million went to international markets. The value of agricultural exports (domestic and international) has increased significantly over the past decade, by 48%. The Toowoomba Region is well placed to leverage off its strengths in agriculture to benefit from the shift in Australia’s trade and export patterns towards Asia.
Toowoomba’s agricultural exports are supported by fantastic transport infrastructure including road, rail, air and port facilities. Toowoomba is just over one and a half hours drive to the Port of Brisbane, giving easy access to domestic and international markets. Situated at the intersection of three of the country’s major highways, Toowoomba is ideally located for transport connections. As a result, 85% of the Australian population can be reached within 24 hours by road.
Major infrastructure investment in and around Toowoomba will considerably increase the competitiveness of Toowoomba’s agricultural industry, supply chain and export potential.
- Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport – This $200 million-plus new airport is jet-capable, available for regular passenger services, charter flights, fly-in-fly-out (FIFO) and airfreight services and will further embed the Toowoomba Region’s higher order economic function as a major regional city. The airport will open up new export markets for Toowoomba’s agricultural industry. In November 2015, Cathay Pacific undertook a trial flight carrying 50 tonnes of produce to Hong Kong. This included frozen and chilled beef, nuts, mangoes, organic chicken and lettuce. It is anticipated that regular flights will commence by the end of 2016.
- Toowoomba Second Range Crossing – This $1.6 billion project, which commenced in April 2016 and is due to be completed by 2018, will enhance the supply chain for the agriculture sector by improving the productivity and efficiency of the transport and logistics industry, better linking Brisbane, the Darling Downs and the Surat Basin on the road freight network.
- Inland Rail project – This will decrease the time it takes freight to travel between Toowoomba and Brisbane. This new/upgraded line will also provide improved access to Sydney and Melbourne. It will also increase the volume capacity of freight, with trains able to carry the equivalent of 108 B Doubles.
Connecting much of this infrastructure is InterLinkSQ – a 200 hectare intermodal terminal and industrial precinct located 13kms west of the CBD.
These infrastructure improvements will help elevate Toowoomba’s role as a major agricultural production and transport hubs. Toowoomba has a great opportunity to meet some of the freight demands of the Brisbane Airport, which handles around 12% of Australia’s international air freight and is Australia’s third largest airport. It is also well positioned to respond to the significant opportunities presented by Asia’s growth.
Opportunities provided by the agriculture industry
The Agriculture Industry’s importance goes beyond its own sector with significant flow-on benefits to the broader economy including food processing machine manufacturing and freight and logistics industries. Local agricultural products for example are used to make a range of meat, bakery and dairy related processed goods. The agriculture supply chain is being enhanced by major investment in research and innovation. This includes:
- Agri-Food innovation hub/Food Leaders Australia is helping food producers and processors in Toowoomba access international markets and grow their business capabilities. This hub brings together growers, manufacturers and researchers to create a more efficient industry and new, value-added products.
- The National Centre for Engineering in Agriculture, part of the University of Southern Queensland, focusses on researching sustainable and efficient farming practices.
- The Queensland Centre for Climate Applications looks at the effects of climate change on agriculture and researches practical solutions and adaptations for dealing with this.
- Economic and employment data - National Institute of Economic and Industry Research (NIEIR) ©2016
- Australian Bureau of Statistics, Value of Agricultural Commodities Produced, Australia, 2010-11. Cat. No. 7503.0
The Toowoomba region is home to a number of highly regarded schools that service the broader Darling Downs, eight of which offer quality boarding facilities to regional, interstate and overseas students. The Toowoomba region is also the founding location of the University of Southern Queensland (USQ), with programs offered at three campuses, via online education and with national and international education partners. Education and Training is the third largest employing sector in the Toowoomba Region, supporting almost 10% of all jobs, above the Queensland benchmark of 8%. In fact, the region provides 4.1% of all Queensland jobs in the sector, despite its population base being only 3.4% of Queensland’s total.
Education and training is a growing source of economic value to the region. The sector generates considerable value for the Toowoomba Region’s economy and in 2015/16 was the 6th largest contributor to total value added. The share of total value added was 7.8%, far exceeding the share of the sector at a state level (5.6%). This highlights the region’s specialisation in education and training.
The value added generated by the sector has grown consistently over the last decade, rising from $465m in 2005/06 to $628m in 2015/16 (see next chart). This has occurred even with
weak employment growth in the last five years (+ 122 jobs), which suggests an increase in worker productivity. The sector experienced the second highest rate of growth in exports value out of all sectors in the Toowoomba Region between 2005/06 and 2015/16.
Contributing to this is USQ which has a substantial international student population and a growing proportion of students studying on-campus. In addition, the region is one of the only locations in Queensland to generate significant export value out of school education, largely a factor of hosting eight quality boarding schools. The Toowoomba Region generated 7.1% of Queensland’s Preschool and School Education industry exports in 2015/16.
Importance of international education
In 2015/16, tertiary education was estimated to be the 5th largest generator of international exports for the Toowoomba Region ($62m). Exports are crucially important for development as they see external earnings brought into the local area and increase demand for local services through multiplier effects, creating a virtuous cycle of economic growth. Research by Deloitte Access Economics has estimated that for every direct dollar of value added contributed by international education in QLD, an extra $0.46 is contributed indirectly to the economy via expenditure on supporting goods and services (Source: Australian Government/DAE, 2016, The value of international education to Australia).
International students also help drive regional tourism by motivating family and friends to visit them during their study or inspiring future holidays. Based on Toowoomba’s share of international students in Queensland, an estimated $0.7m in value added is generated by family and friends visiting international students each year.
Provision of education and training quality services
Toowoomba Region offers a range of educational opportunities that support learning from early to adult years. These include:
86 schools - Five primary schools and seven high schools in Toowoomba were in the top 100 ranked schools in Queensland in 2016 based on Naplan results (Source:bettereducation.com.au, 2017).
- The University of Southern Queensland - a founding member of the Regional Universities Network and internationally awarded for its world class online learning platforms and research expertise in Agriculture and Environment Sciences (Source: Excellence in Research for Australia, State of Australian University Research 2015–16: Volume 1 ERA National Report). USQ Artsworx is a respected performing and visual arts centre supporting the McGregor Summer School.
- TAFE South West Queensland – a major asset for the region’s industries with its courses tailored in consultation with employers. The campus incorporates realistic training facilities including Futures, a fully licensed training restaurant.
- Two clinical schools - Darling Downs Clinical Training Centre (Griffith University) and University of Queensland’s Rural Clinical School.
- Various vocational educational centres including The Community Education Development and Research Centre (CEDAR Centre) established in 1976.
Facilities supporting education and training growth
The strength of Toowoomba Region’s education and training facilities is a key factor in improvements to the local employed resident’s qualifications and skill levels. In 2011, around 53.5% of the labour force held education qualifications, up significantly from 46.8% in 2006. Substantial growth occurred in Bachelor or higher degrees and Certificate III level attainment. In 2011, 18.9% of Toowoomba region’s local labour force held at least a Bachelor degree, compared to only 16.4% for the rest of regional QLD.
Research excellence in growth industries
The Education and Training sector has created important research links with the private sector and government to support industry development. The development of the Centre of Excellence in Engineered Fibre Composites (CEEFC) at the University of Southern Queensland is a recent example of a research partnership. The centre focuses on research and development of different applicable fibre reinforced polymer/cement composite materials for engineering operations. Another example is Food Leaders Australia, a collaboration between businesses Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise (TSBE) and researchers (USQ) to harness the collective intelligence of the broader agriculture industry to create efficiencies and generate new, value-added food products.
Other research centres include:
- Australian Centre for Sustainable Business and Development (ACSBD) focuses on improving profitability, sustainability and resilience of SME
- Centre for Crop Health
- Centre for Health Sciences research
- National Centre for Engineering in Agriculture
- Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (UQ)
Key attractor for new residents
The region’s educational assets are often cited as a deciding factor in encouraging interstate and metropolitan residents to make the move to Toowoomba. The quality of the schools is well known and the region has one of the best teacher-to-student ratios in the country4. The attraction of working families supports population-based industries in the region and boosts the local labour supply.
Major investment expanding the education offering
There is ongoing investment in the education and training sector with many schools upgrading facilities to meet growing demand and provide a more competitive offer. Some examples are:
- University of Southern Queensland’s Agricultural Engineering and Technology Precinct will provide a new home for USQ’s Centre for Crop Health, and includes an expansion of field trials and laboratory
facilities for its National Centre for Engineering in Agriculture (NCEA). A growing number of research partners and international collaborations support ongoing research and development.
- Mary Mackillop Catholic High School redevelopment to offer high school education on top of existing primary school services.
- Toowoomba Grammar School’s new Grammar stadium to provide upgraded basketball, volleyball courts, multipurpose courts and supporting facilities.
- Toowoomba State High School - New multi-purpose school hall building development.
Study Toowoomba collaboration to enhance international education industry
Toowoomba Regional Council has partnered with USQ, TSBE and TAFE Queensland South West to initiate the establishment of an education and training cluster in the Toowoomba Region. It is envisioned Study Toowoomba will function in a similar way to established clusters across Queensland that aim to attract additional students, improve their experience while they are in the region, develop the capacity of the industry and increase awareness within the community of the value of students.
International education is a growing and lucrative market, worth over $20 billion nationally which makes it Australia’s third largest export after coal and iron ore. The Queensland Government has recently supported Toowoomba Regional Council and USQ by providing matching funding under the International Education & Training Partnership Fund for the delivery of two projects in the region that aim to progress the formal establishment of a cluster and improve the experience of international students currently studying in the region.
- Economic and employment data - National Institute of Economic and Industry Research (NIEIR) ©2017
- Australian Bureau of Statistics Census 2006 and 201
- Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise 2016 Development Status Report
- Toowoomba Regional Council
- University of Southern Queensland
Food product manufacturing makes a major contribution to the Toowoomba Region economy, adding significant value to the agriculture industry turning raw ingredients into a range of value added products. In 2015, the value of food product manufacturing production was $268 million and accounted for 41% of the total manufacturing industry (value add) in the Toowoomba Region.
The Toowoomba Region’s food product manufacturing industry benefits from being located in one of Australia’s most productive food regions. In 2015, the Toowoomba Region was one of the highest gross value areas of agricultural production in Australia. Agriculture in Toowoomba contributes almost 12% of Queensland’s agriculture value add. The area produces a wide range of agriculture products including grain, beef, poultry, eggs, fruits and vegetables. This direct access to food producers has enabled the food product manufacturing industry to gain a competitive edge in the supply chain and develop specialisations. In the Toowoomba Region, around 3.3% of value add is within the food product manufacturing industry, well above the Queensland benchmark of 1.7%.
Food product range
Key food product manufacturing activities in Toowoomba Region include meat, bakery, dairy product, and grain mill and cereal product manufacturing. There are a number of major players in the area. In meat product manufacturing, there is JBS Beef City and NH Foods’ owned Oakey Abattoir. In April 2016, the State Government announced funding of $2.5m for the upgrade of rail facilities through to Western Queensland. This will help facilitate rail cattle movements between South West Queensland to Oakey. This includes siding upgrades which will potentially allow Oakey Beef Exports to undertake a major plant expansion, substantially increasing the abattoirs output. In dairy production, Toowoomba has two ice-cream production facilities: Pixie/Home Ice Cream and Weis Frozen Foods. Other major businesses in the area include: Stahmann Farms (pecans and macadamias); Quality Desserts; Mother Meg’s (Australian fine foods); Story Fresh (grower and preparation of fresh-cut vegetables); and CJ Nutracon (beef stock).
Food product manufacturing is the largest international export sector in the Toowoomba Region (at the 2 digit ANZSIC level). In 2015, food product manufacturers in Toowoomba exported $708m worth of goods. Over half of all exports were to international markets (53%). The Toowoomba Region is well placed to leverage off its strengths in food production and food processing to benefit from the shift in Australia’s trade and export patterns towards Asia, in particular for the emerging middle class.
Food product manufacturing currently employs 2,221 people, accounting for 3.1% of total employment, well above the Queensland benchmark of 1.9%. While employment levels have declined, primarily due to technological advances, worker productivity has increased significantly over the past 10 years, increasing by around 24%.
Toowoomba’s food product manufacturing exports are supported by the emerging strength of the region’s transport infrastructure including road, rail, air and port facilities. As a result, 85% of the Australian population can be reached within 24 hours via road transport. Toowoomba is just over one and a half hours drive to the Port of Brisbane, giving easy access to domestic and international markets. Major infrastructure investment in and around Toowoomba will considerably improve the competitiveness of Toowoomba’s Food Product Manufacturing industry and export potential.
- Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport – The $200 million plus Wellcamp Airport is jet-capable, available for regular passenger services, charter flights, fly-in-fly-out (FIFO) and airfreight services and will further embed Toowoomba Region’s higher order economic function as a major regional city. The airport will open up new export markets for Toowoomba’s food product manufacturing industry. In November 2015, Cathay Pacific undertook a trial flight carrying 50 tonnes of produce to Hong Kong. This produce included frozen and chilled beef, nuts, mangoes, organic chicken, and lettuce. It is anticipated that regular flights will commence by the end of 2016.
- Toowoomba Second Range Crossing (TSRC) - The $1.6 billion infrastructure project is a major city/region shaping project set to drive growth in the region’s transport and logistics capabilities linking Brisbane, the Darling Downs and the Surat Basin on the road freight network. This will support the cost competitiveness of Toowoomba’s Food Product Manufacturing industry.
- Inland Rail Project - The Inland Rail project will decrease the time it takes freight to travel between Toowoomba and Brisbane. This new/upgraded line will also provide improved access to Sydney and Melbourne. It will also increase the volume capacity of freight, with trains able to carry the equivalent of 108 B Doubles.
Connecting much of this infrastructure is InterLinkSQ – a 200 hectare intermodal terminal and industrial precinct located 13kms west of the Toowoomba CBD. These infrastructure improvements will enhance the supply chain for the food product manufacturing industry by increasing the competitiveness of its production, processing, and freight and distribution base. Brisbane Airport handles around 12% of Australia’s international air freight, the third largest airport in Australia. Toowoomba has a great opportunity to meet some of this demand as well as respond to the significant opportunities presented by Asia’s growth.
Initiatives to support growth in higher-value production
Integration of new technologies and targeted export market campaigns will increase Toowoomba’s ability to supply more higher-value food products. Initiatives that are supporting this include:
- AccessChina’16 – A trade mission to Shanghai focussing on export opportunities for Toowoomba businesses.
- AgInnovate Investment Forum – A forum which will showcase technologies from early-stage and mature businesses which integrate components including genetics, engineering, software and smart machinery, and outline opportunities for innovation and investment.
- Food Leaders Australia – A collaborative partnership between growers, manufacturers and researchers to create a more efficient agriculture industry and generate new, value-added food products.
- Economic and employment data - National
- Institute of Economic and Industry Research
- ABS Census of Population and Housing 2011
As the capital of the Darling Downs, the Toowoomba Region plays an important regional economic role, particularly in health and wellbeing. The city’s growing CBD employment cluster with major health assets reinforces this regional city role. In the Toowoomba Region, around 14.5% of all jobs are within the health care and social assistance industry, well above the Queensland benchmark of 12.2%. Health care and social assistance is the largest employer in the Toowoomba Region, employing around 10,700 people in 2015. It is also a major job creator, with the second largest increase in employment of 1,503 people over the past decade of any industry in Toowoomba.
The health care and social assistance industry is a major driver of economic activity in the Toowoomba Region. In 2015, it contributed $751 million to gross regional product. It was the 4th largest industry by value added in 2015, accounting for 9.2% of total industry value added and one of the fastest growing over the past decade (+$245M).
Health and wellbeing services
Within this industry, the largest sub-sector is hospitals, employing 3,846 people. This sector has increased by around 659 people over the last 10 years. There has also been strong growth in residential care services and social assistance services, with a small decline in medical and other health services.
- Hospitals: 3,846 jobs (+659 between 2005 and 2015)
- Medical and other health services: 2,472 jobs (-186)
- Social assistance services: 2,612 jobs (+648)
- Residential care services: 1,813 jobs (+382)
The industry is diverse and caters for the full spectrum of health and care services for residents in the wider region. Toowoomba is home to three major hospitals:
- St Vincent’s Private Hospital
- St Andrew’s Toowoomba Hospital
- Toowoomba Hospital.
As teaching facilities, they also support the region’s training and skills development needs. Other major health facilities and infrastructure include Griffith University facility, University of Queensland rural clinic, LifeFlight helicopter base in Toowoomba (one of seven in Queensland) and smaller hospitals within Millmerran and Oakey. Toowoomba also hosts the Darling Downs and West Moreton primary health network, further boosting its role as the regional health hub for the region.
The health and wellbeing of the population within the Toowoomba Region is well catered for, with a number of gyms and recreational activities to support healthy living. There are also a number of retirement village operators and more than 30 aged care providers.
Major health and wellbeing investments
There has been substantial investment into the Health and Wellbeing industry recently, with around $36 million of health and aged care related building approvals in 2015. All three hospitals are investing in hard infrastructure and expanding their service offer. Some of the recent health and wellbeing related investment includes:
- A new theatre at Toowoomba Hospital ($8.1 million).
- Facility upgrades at St Andrews including the strong performing day surgery facilities. Also in 2015, St Andrews had the first purpose built, fully integrated blue glass modular operating theatre in the southern hemisphere and places Toowoomba on the map as offering the most advanced surgical procedures.
- A $30M theatre redevelopment providing six new theatres, a 16-bed recovery area and a new day surgery unit. St Vincent’s Private Hospital announced the redevelopment in June 2016. Construction is expected to commence in September 2017 and be completed by early 2018.
- 700 new residential care places being allocated to Toowoomba by the Federal Government in the area since 2012. The specialisation of the sector means that many patients are now treated in Toowoomba instead of travelling to
Effects of the aging population
The Toowoomba Region’s ageing population, combined with its city role and highly skilled workforce, is expected to generate strong demand for new businesses. The number of persons aged 65 and above in the Toowoomba Region is projected to increase by around 26,000 people between 2011 and 2036. The ageing population will increase demand placed on health and wellbeing services and will provide opportunities for the region to build on its already strong foundations as a major health hub.
To meet future demand within the region a number of retirement resorts and aged care facilities are either expanding or new developments are occurring. Some examples are:
- Palm Lake resort has proposed an eight stage development which will see more than 320 new homes and community facilities being added to their existing facility.
- A 108 room facility is being developed by Bupa Care Services.
- Ozcare has been given approval to build a 120 bed aged care facility specifically designed to allow residents to ‘age in place’.
- Early 2016, Cromcorp Pty Ltd submitted plans for an aged care home with 129 residential suites in a three-story building located at the top of the Toowoomba range.
- More recently, in June 2016 Infin8 Care lodged plans for a new 134 unit facility
- Living Gems Glenvale is an over 50's resort currently being developed. Upon completion, within two years, there will be 168 villas.
- Economic and employment data - National Institute of Economic and Industry Research (NIEIR) ©2016
- Building approvals - ABS 8731.0 - Building Approvals, Australia, Mar 2016
- Businesses – ABS 8165.0 - Counts of Australian Businesses, including Entries and Exits, Jun 2011 to Jun 2015
- Population projections - Queensland Government population projections, 2015 edition
The Toowoomba region economic profile - June 2018
This publication gives an overview of a range of topics including demographics, employment, industry, housing, tourism and trends. Important areas that were identified as contributing to the future of our region's economic growth were major CBD investment, the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing, Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport and the Inland Rail Project.
Hard copies can be obtained by contacting us. Alternatively, an electronic copy is available from the link below.
Toowoomba taking off
BY KEENAN JACKSON Economic Consultant JUNE 1, 2017
In a recent case study, we discovered Toowoomba is on the up and up. As a regional centre, Toowoomba has invested in infrastructure and fostered an entrepreneurial business culture. Now, a growing number of Brisbane’s professionals are heading west.
This year, we had the opportunity to develop the new economic profile for the Toowoomba Region.
In addition to updating key sections within the profile using the latest ABS and National Economics (NIEIR) data, we decided that to capture the true story of growth and development, we needed to talk to some locals.
The end result was two case studies; one highlighting a major enabling infrastructure project that showcases the entrepreneurial spirit of local businesses, and another revealing how Toowoomba is increasingly becoming a destination of choice for residents of metropolitan Brisbane who are chasing a regional life without sacrificing urban amenities.
When is an airport more than an airport?
The first case study focuses on Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport – the first privately-owned public airport to be built in Australia in more than 50 years. The airport is the brainchild of the Wagners, a Toowoomba family who grew an initial investment in a small concrete batching plant into a successful multinational construction business.
Using their construction capabilities and raw materials from their own quarry nearby, the Wagners constructed a functional airport in an amazing 19 months and 11 days. It is also the only regional airport in Australia truly focused on growing a strong freight airline base, rather than simply a passenger service facility.
Wellcamp itself will generate numerous jobs and output from its ongoing operation, but it is the flow on or ‘catalytic’ effects that will have the greatest impact. These include improving global access, boosting productivity, multiplying benefits of other infrastructure, growing the visitor economy, and attracting new businesses and working professionals.
Brisbane professionals moving west
The second case study illustrated how an increasing number of professionals are taking the leap to regional living and calling Toowoomba home, as congestion and costs of living in Brisbane start to mount up. In fact, between 2006 and 2011, 36% of working residents who moved to Toowoomba from Brisbane were professionals.
Toowoomba offers a great lifestyle for new residents, with the region being ranked the fourth most family friendly city in Australia. The economy is also incredibly strong, and yet, it is still a very affordable place to live, with median house prices well below the state average. Toowoomba continues to develop its offering of metro-level facilities too. For example, the $500 million Grand Central redevelopment, which will provide residents with 160 new speciality retailers, including global high street brands like H&M.
Working professionals often cite reduced regional income levels and potential limitations to their career pathway as factors that may prevent them moving to a regional city. However, we discovered this wasn’t the typical experience in Toowoomba.
Our modelling showed that despite marginally lower average income levels, a family of two working professionals and two children is actually financially better off than they would be in Brisbane, once lower housing and commute costs are factored in. Concerns about career limitations are unfounded too: Toowoomba offers a number of executive positions in large companies and public sector institutions. The city is home to the headquarters of the Heritage Bank and the offices of many multinationals, especially in the oil and gas industries.
Take a closer look
For a more detailed understanding of two stories showcasing Toowoomba’s growth, read our case studies.