Staff at peanut factory

The Toowoomba Region economic profile - 2021

A summary of the information held in the Toowoomba Region Economic Profile 2021 is included below.

Rich traditions

Over its rich history, the Toowoomba Region has transformed its agricultural base into a diverse and strong economy, offering a range of business, investment and employment opportunities. The Toowoomba Region generated $11.6 billion in Gross Regional Product (GRP) in 2019/20 and supported an estimated 82,413 jobs. This represented around 3.1% of the Queensland economy, making it the third-largest regional city economy in Queensland.


  • In 2020, the Toowoomba Region faced significant challenges. The Region was already recovering from a prolonged drought when the pandemic hit. Toowoomba’s GRP is estimated to have fallen by $126 million, or -4.4%, in the June Quarter 2020. This decline was far smaller than the average across Queensland and Australia. Toowoomba’s diverse industry and business resilience helped weather the impacts and all signs suggest that economic recovery is underway with the unemployment rate one of the lowest in Queensland. Even with the coronavirus impacts included, economic growth was around 2.8% per year over the past decade, far exceeding the state average.

 1Excludes Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Moreton Bay, Logan, Redland and Ipswich.

  • This strong position today grew from agricultural beginnings that took advantage of highly fertile farming land. In 2019/20, Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing contributed $490 million to the Toowoomba Region economy with key outputs in eggs, beef, cotton, cereal crops, poultry, milk, and pulses. Prolonged drought conditions weighed on Toowoomba’s agricultural sector in 2018, 2019 and 2020. But the Region is beginning to bounce back with production forecast to grow strongly in 2021 with this growth having flow-on benefits for other businesses in Toowoomba.
  • As the capital of the Darling Downs, the Toowoomba Region plays an important regional economic role, particularly in education, health, mining, business services, defence and construction. Health Care and Social Assistance is the largest employing industry and the second largest in terms of contribution to the GRP. The industry performed extremely well over the last decade, adding nearly 4,850 jobs (51% increase) and over $495 million worth of economic value (75% increase). In 2019/20, the industry contributed $1,154 million to the Toowoomba Region economy.
  • Professional, Scientific and Technical Services is an emerging industry with employment increasing by 1,626 jobs over the last five years, making it Toowoomba’s second largest growth sector. In 2019/20, Toowoomba Region had the fifth highest share of Professional Services jobs among Australia’s Regional Cities.
  • The Region’s growing CBD employment agglomeration and significant education and health anchors reinforce this major city role. The rise of remote working also has the potential to shift high skilled jobs from capital cities to Regional Cities like Toowoomba, especially given the cost-of-living advantage provided.
  • Manufacturing has leveraged off these rich traditions to add value to the agricultural and transport and logistics sectors, as well as supporting mining operations in the Surat Basin. Manufacturing contributes $627 million to the Toowoomba Region economy and is the region’s second largest international exporter which is driven by the Region’s specialisation in food product manufacturing.
  • Growth in mining operations in the Surat Basin has added another string to the Toowoomba Region economy with exceptionally strong growth in mining support services (e.g. well drilling and servicing businesses locating in the Region). Mining contributed $1,509 million in 2019/20 and is the Region’s largest international exporter. Recent investment in renewable energy will build on the potential of the Region’s energy and resource sector
  • Tourism has contributed to the diversity of the Toowoomba Region economy. While the coronavirus pandemic has impacted visitation levels, the recent activity driven by Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers shows the potential from this emerging sector. The growth of sports and event tourism is expected to help grow this sector and business tourism has also emerged as an important driver of visitation.

  • The Transport and Logistics sector has also emerged by taking advantage of the Toowoomba Region’s strategic location as the western gateway to the $237 billion South East Queensland economy; proximity to the Surat and Cooper Basins; and prime position on the Melbourne to Brisbane freight route. Air Freight capacity has expanded Toowoomba’s trade hub role with air freight growing in 2020 despite the impact of the coronavirus.
  • This gateway position also enhances the trade role of the Toowoomba Region economy. Exports to domestic and international markets generated $7.6 billion in 2019/20 and are a strategic driver of economic growth. The Toowoomba Region’s largest export industries include Mining, Manufacturing, Agriculture, and Transport, Postal and Warehousing.

  • Toowoomba has been ranked as one of Australia’s most family-friendly cities and the Toowoomba Region ranked 7th in Regional Australia’s 2018 most liveable regions study. With a house price-to-income ratio lower than most of South East Queensland, it is also a highly affordable place to live.
  • Housing diversity, affordability and liveability advantages of the Region have combined to become important drivers of population, skills and business growth. Skills have improved strongly in recent times, and in 2016 around 61.0% of the labour force held educational qualifications, higher than the Regional Queensland average of 59.6%

2 https://www.ipsos.com/en-au/life-metropolitan-and-regional-australia

Toowoomba Region’s economic role as a regional capital city, agricultural hub, knowledge and research centre, and freight and logistics hub, provides enormous strengths and competitive advantages. This role will be pivotal in the Toowoomba Region positioning itself to catch the next wave of economic, employment and investment opportunities. The coronavirus pandemic is also likely to impact the future demographic and economic environment across Australia with Toowoomba well placed to benefit from some of these shifts.

 The next wave will be driven by:

  • Strong population growth, with the population projected to grow to 204,332 people by 2041, based on the State Government’s medium population scenario. This will help support critical mass in economic activity and innovation.
  • An infrastructure pipeline of around $13.1 billion [Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise (TSBE) Development Status Report, February 2020]. The Toowoomba Region is on an upward spiral of economic development, with city-shaping infrastructure transforming productivity, accessibility and amenity - e.g. major CBD investment, Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport and Business Park, Toowoomba Bypass (formerly Toowoomba Second Range Crossing), Inland Rail Project and the Toowoomba Trade Gateway.
  • Unlocking links to a growing Asian market will present significant opportunities for businesses in the Toowoomba Region, building on its international trade of agriculture, food manufacturing, resources, education and tourism.
  • Substantial growth in national freight movements, with the Toowoomba Region’s strategic location and infrastructure ready to capture the opportunities this provides. Rapid growth in online shopping because of the coronavirus pandemic is expected to drive additional demand for industrial land and warehouse investment.
  • Growing importance of regional cities with the Toowoomba Region to benefit from affordability, housing choice and liveability advantages. The coronavirus is having a fundamental demographic change on where people are living. Recent migration data shows that Regional Queensland had the largest in-movement of any broad region with strong growth driven by Sydney, regional NSW and Melbourne.
  • Capturing a share of the growth in remote working. The pandemic has accelerated the transition to remote work and this shift has the potential to further increase demand for working in regional cities like Toowoomba. This can create opportunities for regional cities like Toowoomba to build further on its professional service advantage.

Coronavirus disclaimer: The profile data and commentary is based on pre-coronavirus conditions. The 2021 Economic Profile publication, with fully
informed commentary and data updates will reflect the coronavirus economic impact on the Toowoomba Region.

Economic development documents

9478484TIQInvestToowoombaProspectus2020
Austrade Export Case Study Russell Mineral Equipment September 2018
Austrade Investment Case Study Medicinal Cannabis Venture
Bold Ambitions 2038: Toowoomba Region Economic Development Strategy (May 2018)
Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport
Building & Development Activity Report 2021
Charter
Community Growth Action Plan - Clifton
Community Growth Action Plan - Crows Nest
Community Growth Action Plan - Millmerran
Community Growth Action Plan - Oakey
Community Growth Action Plan - Pittsworth
Creative CBD Toowoomba Fact sheet
Creative CBD Toowoomba FAQs for Property Owners
Creative CBD Toowoomba Readiness Checklist
Industry profile - Advanced manufacturing
Industry profile - Agriculture
Industry profile - Education
Industry profile - Education (Chinese version)
Industry profile - Food product manufacturing
Industry profile - Health and wellbeing
Industry profile - Transport and logistics
Investment Case Study Boomaroo Nursery 2020
Investment Case Study Mort & Co 2020
Investment Case Study Oakey Beef Exports 2020
Investment Case Study Qantas Group Pilot Training Academy 2020
Investment Case Study Stahmann Farms 2020
Investment profile - Clifton
Investment profile - Crows Nest
Investment profile - Oakey
Investment profile - Yarraman
Investment Prospectus Toowoomba CBD and PDA
Metiisto Chocolate Wins Global Award
Railway Parklands Master Plan
Railway Parklands Master Plan
Small Business Friendly Council Charter
The Shop Top Living Design Guide
Toowoomba CBD Analysis 2020
Toowoomba Lifestyle Case Study
Toowoomba Railway Parklands Master Plan
Toowoomba Railway Parklands Master Plan review report 2018
Toowoomba Railway Parklands PDA Development Scheme Amendment No1 - Submissions Report - MEDQ approved
Toowoomba Region Economic Profile 2021