A new report from Deloitte Access Economics, tabled at a Toowoomba Regional Council (TRC) Economic Development Committee, has highlighted opportunities for the Toowoomba Region that may be facilitated by a proposed SEQ City Deal.
The City Deal Preliminary Position Paper commissioned by the council and Surat Basin Enterprise highlights four main catalytic opportunities that have the potential to transform the community’s economy.
TRC Mayor, Paul Antonio, said the report confirms the SEQ City Deal is great news for the Toowoomba Region.
“The report signals the great potential that could flow from the SEQ City Deal to council, business and the community. The prospects include the potential transport and logistics hub, improved connectivity, a digital hub and also an export Hub with digital trade,” Mr Antonio said.
Mr Antonio said the report foresees the region’s expected transformation into a nationally-significant transport and logistics hub.
“Regional comparisons show that the Toowoomba-Darling Downs region has the right characteristics for transport and logistics investment due to its many strategic advantages.
“It points to local our advantages that include access to local markets and supply chain flexibility; hinterland access to large scale production; availability of strategically located land; access to skilled labour; and transport and logistics infrastructure such as the Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport, Toowoomba Bypass and the Inland Rail alignment.”
Mr Antonio said he was delighted that the report highlighted the significant benefits that the proposed Faster Rail project will provide to the SEQ region.
“Improved connectivity will be one of the most important aspects of the deal, and it will be the catalyst for other priorities to succeed.
“The report says that Faster Rail could facilitate population growth, incentivising migration to the Ipswich to Toowoomba western growth corridor. The Toowoomba Region is already very liveable; fast passenger rail makes us more accessible.
“For our Region, this next wave of transport projects would mean a 45 minute journey by rail from Toowoomba to central Brisbane.
“Tourism would be a significant beneficiary of Fast Rail with day trips potentially increasing by up to 15 per cent and increased regional tourism expenditure by 2 per cent, equating to a $25 million injection to the economy.
“The report states that an indicative analysis of Faster Rail found that the project could contribute to alleviating population growth pressures in the Brisbane region.
“It also points out that Fast Rail will provide time savings to travellers, reduce congestion and emissions (through mode switch to rail) and increase economic connectivity between Brisbane and Toowoomba.”
Mr Antonio said the proposed SEQ City Deal is about more than just connecting infrastructure; it’s about jobs and skills, housing and planning, digital, liveability and sustainability, governance and leadership.
“The report also looks at the opportunities of future industries that could stem from an SEQ City Deal,” Mr Antonio said.
“The industries of the future could turn our region into a digital hub by leveraging off the already substantial private and public sector investment in the region.
“The report highlights the value of a Technology Park that boasts several key features, including low latency, low energy usage, data warehousing and cloud services, along with innovation and collaboration spaces, and purpose-built facilities.
“It points out that Pulse Data Centre is a Tier III data centre and is the first of its kind in regional Australia, with an independent power system to ensure uptime rates.
“The report says there is a considerable opportunity to develop the region into an export trade hub. This could incorporate future digital capability into the region, such as digital trade and trade facilitation.
“The report also states that the Toowoomba-Darling Downs region can leverage its existing strategic economic advantages in agriculture, mining and manufacturing, and digital infrastructure. It mentions that Pulse DC has potential co-location opportunities at the technology park to help organisations ‘tap-into’ global markets.”
Mr Antonio said the City Deal proposal is a 20-year funding deal where funds from three levels of government are directed towards priority projects.
“A City Deal is about being smarter with the limited funds we have available. Local governments around Australia, not just Toowoomba, are not able to undertake projects like a fast rail passenger service, by themselves.
“A City Deal is a new approach where all levels of government work together to plan and deliver transformative outcomes for Australian cities.
“The underlying message of this report is that our support of the SEQ City Deal will pay dividends for our region into the future.”