Vision powers Darling Downs food growth

View From the Paddock: Darling Downs food growth going gangbusters


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There are some exciting developments happening on the Darling Downs, something that is driving innovation and business growth into sectors we've never seen before.

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Bruce McConnel, general manager, TSBE, Food Leaders Australia.

Bruce McConnel, general manager, TSBE, Food Leaders Australia.

There are some exciting developments happening on the Darling Downs, something that is driving innovation and business growth into sectors we've never seen before.

Toowoomba's growth story is now well acknowledged and celebrated across Queensland and Australia. I want to explore this story and provide some context of how this growth is having an effect, particularly within the food and ag industries.

Of course, you can't mention Toowoomba's food and ag industry growth without talking about the Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport. The Wagner family's investment into this piece of public infrastructure has changed the type and scale of opportunities we, as a region, can now pursue especially regarding export. Our vision has grown, and with Queensland's only dedicated freighter service, we now look to capture global opportunities.

This optimism and global view has seen the region look to not only expand existing industries, but embrace industries never before seen within the region. The Pulse Data Centre is the start of a digital industry. As Australia's first regionally-based data centre, located on the NBN backbone, this investment will fuel a growth in ag, food, energy technology and innovation.

These major investments have opened the floodgates for others to capture opportunities. These include:

  • Asterion's medicinal cannabis venture is one of the world's largest cannabis facilities at 40 hectares under glasshouse and over 500,000 kg annual production.
  • Boomaroo Nurseries at Southbrook will open in July and is the most automated seedling nursery in the southern hemisphere.
  • TAFE Queensland's Rural Centre of Excellence will open in Toowoomba late in 2019 and will drive a transformational change in how we will deliver ag and food industries with the workforce of the future.

If you include these investments with the large scale growth of existing businesses, such as NH Foods' plant expansion at Oakey and Mort & Co's Grassdale feedlot expansion, and non-agricultural investments such as the Qantas Pilot Training Academy and the Second Range Crossing and Inland Rail, it's easy to see why Toowoomba and surrounds are progressing so rapidly.

As region we celebrate the growth of the last decade and we look forward to seeing what we can enable in the next decade!

- Bruce McConnel, general manager, TSBE, Food Leaders Australia

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