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 and 2011, 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 economic profiles including Education and Training which is currently being updated. Agriculture, Health and Wellbeing and Food Product Manufacturing were produced in 2016. Transport and Logistics and Professional Services were produced in 2014. 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 Economic Associates. 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
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).
- 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 - March 2017
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.